NAFTA in Transition

By Stephen J. Randall; Herman W. Konrad | Go to book overview

Maria Teresa Gutiérrez Háces Centre for United States Studies National Autonomous University of Mexico


5
Canada—Mexico: The Neighbour's Neighbour

I

Towards the end of 1990, when Mexico and Canada decided to negotiate a trilateral free trade agreement with the United States, they suddenly had to confront an undeniable fact: during the past fifty years, neither one had advanced in its knowledge of the other. By late 1993, with a final document and the signing of the parallel agreements, the negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had concluded. Throughout the negotiating process, those who were in one way or another connected to NAFTA tried to gain expertise, in the shortest time possible, regarding the most relevant issues about the Canadian economy, history and policy in order to define a strategy for the Mexican negotiating team. Overall, I would call that strategy defensive rather than complementary. Although much data was collected and many documents were drafted, the information that was gathered about Canada was mostly related to issues considered important in relation to the negotiation itself and did not focus on those aspects that would lead to a greater knowledge of, and understanding between, the two societies.

Apart from the negotiations, another process developed, one which, in my opinion, was of equal importance. Towards the end of 1990, a growing number of individuals and organizations in Canada began to study Mexico from their own professional and political perspectives. This phenomenon, a spontaneous encounter of two societies, was and is a process which in most cases was independent of Mexican or Canadian official agencies.

Thus, there were two parallel movements towards this mutual discovery. One began and grew as a need by groups directly involved, basically bureaucrats at all levels of government from those departments which considered themselves most affected by the negotiations, including

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