Going Green

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

NAFTA -- Full Implementation

This is a tough issue. In order to improve our markets to other countries such as those in Latin America, they must have the economic strength to demand our products. However, to gain that strength, they must play the cards they are dealt -- in developing countries that is usually agriculture. Because of lower input costs such as labor, they sometimes have an economic advantage in production. Competition is good, but national security then becomes an issue. We must maintain food security -- both production capacity and regulatory oversight of chemicals, disease, etc.

Another problem is trucking -- their trucks, our highways. We must require that foreign trucking companies operate at the same standards as domestic carriers do.

If the economies of the countries to our south improve sufficiently, will it have an impact on illegal immigration to this country? I hope so, but won't hold my breath. There is still significant political instability and corruption in most Latin American countries so that the incentives to leave still outweigh the reasons to stay. It is likely to remain that way for many years.

Statement by Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner on the Full Implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Jan. 2, 2008

"As of Jan. 1, 2008, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is now fully implemented, opening an historic new chapter in one of the most successful trade agreements in our history. Since its inception in 1994, NAFTA has been a remarkable success story for all three partners. It has contributed to significant increases in agricultural trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico and has benefited farmers, ranchers and consumers throughout North America.

"In 1994, our combined agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico totaled...(complete article here).

In principle I am for free trade. However, I also am for national security. If we were all on a level playing field -- same type of government, same level of economic activity, same tax structure, similar wage structure, same level of political stability, etc. -- I would say let's go for it. That isn't the case though (the case with Canada is very different than the case with Mexico and other Latin American countries). We must move toward free trade in steps -- carefully planned steps -- or we may see disastrous consequences.

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