The Politics of U.S.-Mexican Trade Integration
INGRAINED habits of thinking, instilled from childhood, among Mexicans and Americans impede analysis of the economics of a movement toward free trade and would complicate conclusion of a bilateral agreement even if the economic considerations weighed in its favor.1 It is not possible to do justice in a brief discussion to the origins of these national differences, but neither can they be ignored in a serious analysis. Most of this book deals with economic issues, but economics as practiced between nations is also politics. This chapter examines the reciprocal political attitudes and concerns and their implications for a movement to free trade.
Disparate power and conflicting histories are obstacles to greater trade integration between Mexico and the United States. However, other countries with mutual antagonism and distrust have concluded trade and economic integration arrangements despite these or, in the case of Germany and France, because of them. Distrust may even remain as trade is freed, which is what happened with Ireland in relation to the United Kingdom and with the Netherlands in relation to Germany, when each country sought the benefits of membership in the European Community. The French need not love the Germans to cooperate with them economically. Despite a continuing territorial dispute, Peru and Ecuador cooperate in the Andean Group, and even a war between El Salvador and Honduras did not lead to the withdrawal of either from the Central American Common Market. Trade arrangements can transcend political tensions.____________________