W230 NAFTA and Mexico a Sectoral Analysis

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NAFTA and Mexico: a Sectoral Analysis José Luis Valdés-Ugalde World History is a house that has more staircases than rooms Börne 1 1 Quoted by Robin Blackburn (ed) (1991) 2 C.S. Gray (1988:39). 3 Shakespeare, W, (1611), The Tempest, act 2, sc. 1, l. [296]. Also written at the entrance of the National Archives Building, Washington, DC. What is Past is Prologue. William Shakespeare 3 Mexico and the Case of NAFTA: a Sectoral Analysis 4 José Luis Valdés-Ugalde 5 4

Text of W230 NAFTA and Mexico a Sectoral Analysis

  • NAFTA and Mexico: a Sectoral Analysis

    Jos Luis Valds-Ugalde

  • World History is a house that has more staircases than rooms


    Did the United States succeed in nation-building and in forcible nation-restoration because

    it was virtuous, or because it had Canadians and Mexicans as its neighbours rather than

    Russians and Germans?

    C.S. Gray2

    What is Past is Prologue.

    William Shakespeare3

    1 Quoted by Robin Blackburn (ed) (1991) 2 C.S. Gray (1988:39). 3 Shakespeare, W, (1611), The Tempest, act 2, sc. 1, l. [296]. Also written at the entrance of the NationalArchives Building, Washington, DC.

  • Mexico and the Case of NAFTA: a Sectoral Analysis4

    Jos Luis Valds-Ugalde5


    The so-called global village nowadays is circumscribed to an intense dynamic process in

    which commercial activity is one of the central features in the process of integration

    starting with neo-globalization. Neo-globalization, trade opening processes, and economic

    reform are components of a movement affecting foreign policies that occurred for the first

    time in 1989, year of the Soviet Bloc disintegration, the Cold War end, and a new definition

    of world arrangements. As soon as those elements were given, States started visualizing

    themselves and relating to the world around them from a new perspective, determined by

    the variety of paradigmatic challenges they encountered. A clarification about the so-called

    end of the Cold War is required if we want to make a proper insight of its implications on

    the strategic redefinition of the economic and political blocs. This is a whole that has to be

    decomposed in its parts, taking into account Paul Veynes affirmation that recognition of

    the existence of other nations as subjects of international law is not self-evident.6

    This is relevant because sovereignty is an issue discussed intensely in the process of

    trade integrations, and sometimes still without possible agreement. It is important to

    mention that the end of bipolarity gives way, due to a simultaneity of flows, to the

    generation of the necessary conditions for a new economic world order that, even in the

    present, still needs to define some of its routes. The most important of these is the

    distribution of financial and material resources that lead the way to national and world

    progress and modernity. Ricardo Pozas Horcasitas suggests that the current international

    4The present work was derived from the book, Jos Luis Valds-Ugalde (2000), Anlisis de los Efectos delTratado de Libre Comercio de Amrica del Norte en la economa mexicana: Una visin sectorial a cincoaos de distancia, 2 vols. Miguel ngel Porra y Senado, (2000), and it was adapted by the author to bepublished in the co-edited book by the University of Alberta and the Institute of US-Mexican Studies of theUniversity of California at San Diego; it stands for both an introductory methodological approach, and theconclusions of the book mentioned before, in which I explore both the advantages and disadvantages faced bythe main sectors of the Mexican economy. I would like to express my thanks to Jimena Otero, FernandaParedes and Rosalva Miguel, my research assistants, for their valuable help in the preparation of this paper.5 Sociologist. He completed an MA in Political Sociology and a Ph. D. in International Relations from theLondon School of Economics and Political Science. He is a professor and researcher at the Centro deInvestigaciones sobre Amrica del Norte (CISAN), UNAM.6 Paul Veyne, (1 982 ), Th e inventor y o f d iffer ences , Econ omy an d Society, vo l. 11, n o. 2, (May 198 2) (trans. E.Kingdom; text of Veynes inaugural lecture at the Collge de France, published by Editions du Seuil, Paris,1976 under the title Linventaire des diffrences), p. 177.

  • phenomena which are the contents of the global scenery spring from the wearing out of the

    status edified during the second post-war7 In Pozas Horcasitas analysis:

    Nowadays, the global era edifies the new terms of international integration (and thishappens) as there is a new distribution of the world in regions, in blocs, and in communities,forms of organization signifying constant and mandatory referents to edify politicalbehaviors and actors actions in societies as in national States8

    Pozas Horcasitas argues that regulative policy, a central component of neo-globalization

    that has not always worked as expected, specially when talking about less developed


    Has made the economy autonomous, producing a new phenomenon in which globalizationappears as an economy without society and, as a reaction to it, a political power withouteconomy that expresses itself in the impossibility to design rational and predictable publicpolicies originating from the national states ... The globalization process has also created anew massive phenomenon of exclusion with regard to economy and citizenship9.

    Neo-globalization, or globalization, as other theoreticians of this field call it, is not,

    then, an abstraction, but rather a cultural, economic, and political space that gives the geo-

    political scene a new character10. Within the neo-globalizing realm, the world is understood

    and categorized from ontological universes and among original political realities.

    Nevertheless, there still does not exist a consistent definition of what to be globalized

    means11, or at least we do not yet dispose of the hard elements that will allow the most

    complete approach possible to this irrefutable reality. In this respect, N. Garca Canclini

    calls our attention in the following terms:

    It is curious that this all-out dispute in which factories are bankrupt, jobs are obliterated,massive migrations and inter-ethnic and regional clashes increase, is called globalization. Itis to be noted that entrepreneurs and politicians interpret globalization as a convergence ofhumanity to a solidary future, while many critics of this process read this torn passage as theprocess by which we will all end up homogenized.12

    7 See J.L. Valds-Ugalde, op. cit., p. 697.8 Ibid.9 Ibid..10 About globalization, the following works may be consulted: James Mittelman (ed) (1996), Globalization.Critical Reflections. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner; Christos C. Paraskevopoulos (ed) (1998), GlobalTrading Arrangements in Transition. Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar; Octavio Ianni(1999), La era del Globalismo. Mxico: Siglo XXI; Nestor Garca Canclini (2000), La Globalizacinimaginada. Mxico: Paids; Eleonore Kofman y Gillian Youngs (1996), Globalization: Theory and Practice.London: Pinter. About the cultural dimension of world changes, Vaynes assertion stands out as he says thatculture is truly and really dead when it is defended instead of invented. P. Vayne, Ibid., p. 175.11 N. Garca Canclini (1999), op. cit. p. 45.12 N. Garca Canclini, op. cit., p. 10.

  • If neo-globalization makes uniform or not to the interaction process of national and

    international actors is a question that requires consideration. Even more, it is about an

    enigma to be solved as history irony in progress, gradually shows the reality of each

    country in the integration process vis--vis its own objective socioeconomic conditions. It

    is even more important, if we explain the sense that an objective observation of world

    reality through the prism of free trade has, to highlight the diversifying vitality that the

    cultural arena holds. About this, Veyne, once again, abounds on the importance of

    diversity of ideas in the search of historical clues to understand reality: As the well known

    saying goes, the more ideas we have, the more we find that people are original.13

    Likewise, Geoffrey Barraclough suggests that what we should consider meaningful are the

    differences and not the similarities, the elements of discontinuity and not those of


    For this reason, among other important influences, we should assess the influence

    that the new unipolarity has had on the nature or the new world order, in which Washington

    has held the position of sole power since the second post-war15. Likewise, the weight that

    the global frame has at national scale is yet to be explored, as well as the preoccupation

    expressed by academic and political circles about the influence that Americanization has

    over Mexico.16 Garca Canclini explains this as follows: ... we have gone from a global

    concern of ideological nature about the Americanization that was already taking place in

    Mexico and that intensified since NAFTA, to a more diversified understanding of the

    various ties Mexico has with the US ... and with Europe and Latin America17

    Apart from its belonging to a transitional period and from the possible answers we

    get to the many questions it poses, economic integration today is a fact. One the one hand,

    it is complex and heterogeneous; on the other, undeniable, and to a certain point,

    irreversible: the articulation between globalization, regional integration processes, and

    diverse cultures is becoming a key issue both in study agendas and in negotiations.18 That

    is why integration is now a reality that, being world pervasive, affects each national unity in

    13 P. Veyne, op. cit., p. 178.14 Quoted by Octavio Ianni (1999), op. cit., p. 11.15 Juan Castaingts explains that the integration, and particularly NAFTA, is the result of a triadic world.16