Ex-US Ambassador to Mexico Urges Regional Integration
Dow Jones Newswires
May 2005 - James Jones, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico during the Clinton administration, called Thursday for business leaders to get involved in talks between the U.S., Canada and Mexico to ensure that economic and security interests are treated as part of a comprehensive plan for the region's integration. Jones, whose company Manatt Jones Global Strategies invests in Mexico , also praised the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America pact, which was signed in March by leaders of the three countries.
The agreement seeks to take the 11-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement one step further through greater harmonization of the countries' trade and security policies, and Jones said it reflected some of the ideas of the Mexico-U.S . Business Committee, or Mexus, which he co-chairs. "But in order for these things to move, I think it's going to require the business leadership and the private citizens to really continue to put pressure on all three of our governments," said Jones at an event hosted by the Council of the Americas, an organization that Mexus is part of. Noting that China is on path to become the largest economy in the world, he said that, "If we do this, 20 years from now our children will be able to inherit a very competitive region that can compete with any region anywhere in the world, and the standards of living of all three of our countries will be substantially higher."
Jones expressed concern that the government negotiators appeared to be treating security and prosperity as two separate issues, adding that the two issues "go hand in hand." In addition, Jones believes the integration process should go even further, creating a "borderless North American economy."
While Nafta has succeeded in improving relationships between the countries and their economies, the pact wasn't designed to "really bring our region closer together as a region and to make us more competitive as a region," he said. Thus, Mexus put together a blue print this year with suggestions on how "to strengthen the weakest parts of each of our economies."
While the U.S. needs to focus more on providing job training and other types of assistance for workers displaced by the effects of trade, Mexico should continue with reforms that will enable more of the population to feel the benefits of trade, said Jones. "Mexico , if it's going to maintain a stable, strong democracy, must pay attention to the other half who have not benefitted and bring them into the system - bring them up to a global level of competitiveness," he said. The proposal suggests education reforms in Mexico to improve basic and vocational learning, greater transparency in the legal system and more investment in infrastructure.
Jones also called on the U.S. and Canada to help the country finance the changes, creating a Development Fund for Mexico . U.S. sources of funding could include social security payments made since 1937 by undocumented workers in the U.S., or the Millennium Challenge Account, which provides foreign aid to countries practicing good governance, he added.
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