The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the predominant subject during the keynote address of Wednesday’s U.S.-Mexico Border Summit at the El Paso Convention Center.
Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo addressed the hundreds in attendance about the current relationship between the two countries and the Trump Administration’s expressed desire to end the NAFTA agreement.
“This is not ‘business as usual’ for our relationship. It’s always bound to be complex and challenging, but for the most part in previous administrations there was a lot of effort put into mutual respect and understanding,” Zedillo stated.
Prior to being elected as Mexico’s President in 1994, Zedillo, obtained his master’s and PhD degrees from Yale University in economics. He went on to serve with the Bank of Mexico and was named deputy-secretary of Budget Control. Zedillo led the PRI party’s macroeconomic approach to government.
NAFTA was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and ratified in 1994 by President Clinton. For the most part, most economists agree that the agreement has been beneficial to the U.S. and say withdrawal or renegotiation of the agreement would negatively impact the United States economy, but more so Mexican economy.
“Is this going to be the end of the world?” Zedillo asked the audience. “No, I think it would be bad and uncomfortable for Mexico, but I think there are ways we can compensate if NAFTA is destroyed by the U.S. Government.”
During the 30 minute speech, Zedillo did not once address President Trump by name, instead, preferring to use the term “The American Executive.”
He is not the first former Mexican President that appears to have bad blood with the current administration. Vicente Fox, who succeeded Zedillo as Mexico’s President in 2000 has famously argued on Twitter with Trump’s insistence that Mexico was going to pay for the wall between the two countries.
Wednesday’s summit, which was hosted by the Borderplex Alliance, also featured other round tables and breakout sessions which included political and economic leaders from both sides of the border. The event is held annually to discuss issues facing the Border region.
Author/Photographer: Andra Litton – Special to the El Paso Herald-Post