North American Trade: Free Yet?

A welcome sign in the historic town of Tlaquepaque, a neighborhood in Guadalajara, welcomes the World Trade Center North America 2007 Regional Meeting.

The North American World Trade Centers met in Guadalajara, Mexico, provides a first-hand glimpse into the manufacturing and trade opportunities in central Mexico. It was moved to Guadalajara due to a bit of uncertainty in Mexico City. I arrived the way I often do, on a local air carrier, having traversed customs in Monterrey and caught a domestic flight, and then from the airport to the hotel in a domestic cab, after having watched the patterns for a bit to understand how it all works. Am I a glutton for domestic transportation? Yes, since I think it’s the best way to understand the pulse of a city or country I’m visiting (& I like to see how intra-country air operates).

The meeting threw light on key issues facing US-Mexican relations, specifically in terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement. One speaker noted politicians like to defer thornier issues till the very end, and a very big NAFTA issue is the free movement of goods across the US-Mexican border. Currently goods are transferred between trucks at the border; resolving the issue should reduce transportation costs considerably, but it will certainly be fought with formidable weapons, namely Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.