MONTERREY, MEXICO -- Forget the big stick. Trade is the great
equalizer in North America.
Increased trade because of the North American Free Trade Agreement
is elevating Mexico, Canada and the United States to the same level
in the global marketplace.
While nearly everyone involved with the negotiations recognized
the economic impact that such an agreement will create -- few
understood the political ramifications of the agreement and what's
happening on the continent, a retired career United States ambassador
"The political impact is that Mexico is rising to the same level
as the other countries," said Richard A. Rubottom, now a consultant
for the firm of Dean International, a Dallas public policy consulting
firm spearheading the drive to create an international trade corridor
along Interstate 35.
"While the economic impact of NAFTA is going to be tremendous, the
political impact is even more important," he said. "Politics of the
economics is going to create something new in all countries. This is
going to be the great equalizer for all the countries.
"Other countries no longer are going to look at Mexico the way
they have, instead that country is a partner with Canada and the
United States. That will increase its importance to the rest of the
Rubottom was one of the featured speakers during the fifth
international meeting of America's Superhighway Coalition, the group
that's trying to obtain international trade corridor status for I-35
and its major tributaries and connecting highways in all three
countries. More than 165 people attended the meeting in Monterrey.
"This coalition is bringing about a cooperative effort, not just
for economic but also for political changes, by appealing to all
parties concerned," the former ambassador said.
The tri-lateral trade agreement has created the world's largest
marketplace and is forcing harmonization of rules, regulations and
laws, said Gary Doyle of Tucson, Ariz., director of the National Law
Center for Inter-American Free Trade.
"Part of the legal issue now is the public truck standards and
safety issues that are a part of the work of the three countries,"
Doyle said. "Border issues also are changing as the three work to
harmonize tariff, trade, import and export regulations and documents,
especially when it comes to EDI (electronic data interface) that will
be used as they try to get a grip on the increased traffic crossing
Even with electronic commerce, though, it's going to be difficult
to reach a harmonization on border issues, according to Leticia
Moran, director of the U.S. Customs Port at Laredo, Texas, the
largest inland port in the United States.
"We have 37,000 passenger vehicles and 4,700 trucks cross through
our port every day," she said. …