A Review of Alejandro Bejar’s Scholarly Article on NAFTA
Alejandro Bejar reviews Mexico’s economic integration and energy before and after the North American Free Trade Agreement. He states that integration first accelerated between Mexico and the United States during the 1970’s during the oil boom. Due to the oil boom Mexico saw an opening of their trade and investment, a reduction of the state’s role in the economy, and deregulation over the next few years. Bejar continues with the statement that policies were systemized in the North American Free Trade Agreement. His first statement about the North American Free Trade Agreement is that it left Mexico highly dependent on imports of the food, industrial, and energy departments. The North American Free Trade Agreement was in theory supposed to boost Mexico’s industrialization of exports and instead did the opposite, making Mexico’s industrialization import-devoted.
Bejar goes on to explain the North American Free Trade Agreement as an offensive and defensive policy for the United States. For the United States, the North American Free Trade Agreement was designed to use its two neighboring countries as levers to reverse the loss of national competition that was manifested from the United States transitioning from being the largest lender to the largest debtor. He then highlights other authors’ work on the North American Free Trade Agreement in the United States, following with him stating that he plans to review the North American Free Trade Agreement in a new way.
Bejar summarizes that he plans to acknowledge three elements that are not well illuminated in the other literature on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The first is the media creating false examples of an abundance that increases the standard of living across all of North America, when in Mexico specifically, the country suffers from large-scale impoverishment and “chronic nationalism.” The second is combined use of what he refers to as iron clamps to open, privatize, and deregulate the energy sector. The first iron clamp are the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United States Treasury after several Mexican financial crises. The second iron clamp are the reforms carried out by successive Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN) governments since 1983 to the present. The third element is the United States’ use of Mexican resources and the economy as a whole as leverage to lower labor relations and environmental concerns. Bejar then highlights that this is the opposite of which the North American Free Trade Agreement was created to do; to protect labor relations and the environment with two fresh agreements on labor relations and the environment.
Later in his article is when he moves on to discuss the economic integration between Mexico and the United States. Bejar states that before the North American Free Trade Agreement the economic integration between the neighboring countries happened naturally majorly due to their geographical locations and the external influence of colonial powers. Between the period of 1945 and 1970 there was a long period integration that witnessed Mexico suffer deployment, consolidation, and an entry into the crisis of the import substitution model. Bejar states that the bilateral agreement of the North American Free Trade Agreement transformed a two-hundred mile strip on either side of the frontier into a free trade zone. It was supposed to reduce the issues of unemployment and pressure of emigration from Mexico to the United States. While Bejar’s article goes further into depth than the others, it can be acknowledged that he reached similar conclusion about the North American Free Trade Agreement in that it did not deliver on its guarantees and instead did the opposite of them.