Former president of Mexico promotes post−NAFTA initiative at KSU global summit
Former Mexico President Vicente Fox promoted his vision for an ambitious post−NAFTA…
Georgia (May 26, 2009) — Former Mexico President Vicente Fox promoted his vision for an ambitious post−NAFTA tripartite agenda aimed at fostering closer ties between the U.S.‚ Mexico and Canada while addressing a global summit at Kennesaw State University yesterday (May 12). Fox urged business leaders‚ government officials and scholars from the three countries to work together in building “this new vision of NAFTA.”
Fox‚ who served as president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006 was the keynote speaker at the inaugural meeting of the Commission for North American Prosperity –– also known as North America 2050 –– held at Kennesaw State on May 11−12. Fox said that while the 15−year−old North American Free Trade Agreement has been a boost to Mexico‚ Canada and the U.S.‚ the three countries should partner to take the trilateral relationship “up to the stars‚” ushering in a new era of collaboration in North America.
“If we are together‚ the U.S.‚ Mexico and Canada‚ no doubt we’ll be number one – the number one economy‚ the number one market‚ the number one consumer market – in the world‚” Fox told the audience gathered at KSU’s Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center during his keynote speech at the close of the summit. “My dream is that we will not have a border.”
The Commission for North American Prosperity is an initiative of the U.S.−Mexico Chamber of Commerce‚ which co−sponsored the summit along with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Centro Fox‚ former president Fox’s Guanajuato−based presidential library/museum/think tank and non−profit devoted to promoting the values of democracy.
“Kennesaw State University was honored to be the host facility for these collaborative post−NAFTA discussions‚” said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. “This event reflects the true purpose of a university‚ which is to facilitate the exchange of diverse ideas and to provide students with the opportunity to interact with a wide range of thought leaders.”
NAFTA was launched in 1994‚ creating what is today a free trade area of 440 million people and the strongest trading bloc in the world. Trade and investment have skyrocketed in North America since NAFTA went into effect‚ with trade accounting for nearly $1 trillion. Canada and Mexico are the United States’ first− and second−largest export markets‚ respectively. The final provisions of the free trade agreement were implemented last year.
President Fox‚ who said his grandfather migrated to Guanajuato‚ Mexico from Cincinnati in 1895‚ praised the benefits of free trade‚ which he says has resulted in lower prices for goods‚ as well as more jobs and a narrowing wealth gap. Mexico‚ Fox said‚ has repeated its free trade experiment “42 times.”
“Mexico has more trade agreements than any other country in the world‚” he said. “It has worked well for us. . . . Mexico is one of the most open economies in the world and the benefits are very clear.”
Academics‚ government dignitaries and business leaders from the U.S.‚ Mexico and Canada who spoke at the summit sang the praises of NAFTA and pressed for closer relations between the three countries as a way to solve problems ranging from economic development and poverty to illegal immigration and drugs. They called for the nations to move beyond NAFTA and adopt “a vision of a community” where neighbors work together to solve common problems and where relations are deepened without the countries losing their sovereignty.
Since 9/11‚ however‚ North American integration has stalled. Putting up walls and securing the borders‚ the summit participants agreed‚ is not conducive to solving problems such as the migration of undocumented workers and the widening wealth gap between Mexico and its northern neighbors.
“Security is about trust‚ and today we have a lack of trust‚” said U.S. Army Col. Eric Rojo‚ international consultant on border security. “The larger bridge that needs to be crossed is the ignorance among ourselves.”
Peter Appleton‚ president of the U.S.−Mexico Chamber of Commerce‚ Southeast Chapter‚ and a self−described Canadian transplant to Mexico and the U.S.‚ said that although Canada lives in the shadow of a giant‚ it has the same concerns as its neighbor to the south.
“We in Canada have a lot of respect for Americans‚” he said. “At the same time‚ we’re frightened of you. We’re afraid of being consumed by the United States of America. . . . It’s important for Americans to understand the issues Canada is concerned about. Canada is part of the solution.
“We have drugs in Canada too‚” Appleton added. “We all have basically the same problems in North America. And we have an opportunity to build something without crossing sovereignty lines.”
For video of Fox's interview with Global Atlanta‚ go to globalatlanta.com/articlevid/17336/399/#ad_1
For audio of Fox's KSU address, go to www.kennesaw.edu/ur//audio_files/Vicente%20Fox%20-%20Kennesaw%20State%20University%2005132009.mp3
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