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About     Publications     Researchers
Rethinking Trade Policy for Development:
Lessons From Mexico Under NAFTA

By Eduardo Zepeda, Timothy A. Wise, and Kevin P. Gallagher

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Policy Outlook
December 2009

Nearly sixteen years after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented, Eduardo Zepeda of the Carnegie Endowment and Timothy A. Wise and Kevin P. Gallagher of Tufts Unversity's Global Development and Environment Institute present a comprehensive assessment of Mexico's poor economic performance under NAFTA. They find:

  • NAFTA is a good place to begin a comprehensive review of U.S. trade agreements, as called for by President Obama.
  • Despite dramatic increases in trade and foreign investment in Mexico under NAFTA, economic growth has been slow and job creation has been weak.
  • Reforms to the template for U.S. trade agreements must go beyond improved labor, environmental, and intellectual property provisions, as in more recent U.S. trade agreements
  • U.S. trade agreements with developing countries should avoid NAFTA’s restrictions on government policies proven to promote dynamic development. They should leave countries such as Mexico the flexibility to deploy effective policies for industrialization, rural development, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection.
  • Mexico’s experience under NAFTA shows that U.S. trade agreements must include robust funding for development to create a more level playing field among trading partners.

Download a copy of the full Policy Outlook. Also available in Spanish.

Download the press release

Read a summary of the report launch at the Carnegie Endowment.

See also a new report: The Future of North American Trade Policy: Lessons from NAFTA, released by Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future

Read more on GDAE's ten years of work on Mexico Under NAFTA

The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.

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