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Mexico Moving ForwardMexico’s progress and future goals 20 years after the signing of NAFTA.

Janet NapolitanoUC Program To Be NAFTA of Higher Education: “The University of California system is launching an initiative to increase student exchanges and research ties with Mexican universities,” UC president Janet Napolitano said.

The former head of US Secretary of Homeland Security spoke at a symposium dedicated to U.S.-Mexico relations on the 20th Anniversary of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Napolitano had a mixed record as the head of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. It was a time of record-breaking deportations, mostly of Mexican citizens. But she also helped craft an administrative rule that offers relief from deportation for some Mexican children who grew up here, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Image: Young Immigrants Apply For Obama Administration's Temporary Deportation Reprieve

Young Immigrants Apply For Obama Administration’s Temporary Deportation Reprieve.

Obama: Deportation Reprieve For Young Illegal Immigrants “Right thing to do.”

Now, in her role as president of the UC system, Napolitano has pledged $5 million in financial aid and special counseling for undocumented students.

Napolitano said “these measures — and immigration reform — are key to harnessing the potential of the North American workforce. The UC president said she hopes the U.S., Mexico and Canada will present themselves to the world as a unified region in the future.”

“Where the manufacturing and supply chain is distributed among the three countries, and where there’s a full panoply of student exchange, research exchange, dialogue, collaboration,” Napolitano said.

At a meeting last March, the presidents of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada also pledged to increase student exchanges in higher education.


Art, culture, politics and economics intersect at Mexico Moving Forward symposium:

Mexico’s recent fiscal and energy reforms, new trade alliances, growing economy and evolving arts and culture were at the center of UC San Diego’s Mexico Moving Forward symposium held on campus March 6. Hosted by the Center for U.S.Mexican Studies (USMEX) at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), the symposium focused on “20 Years of NAFTA and Beyond” and assessed the impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which officially began on Jan. 1, 1994.

Center for U.S.-Mexican StudiesThe standing-room-only event kicked off with welcome remarks from University of California President Janet Napolitano, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and IR/PS Dean Peter Cowhey. They were followed by four sessions in which policymakers and leaders of top think tanks from both sides of the border discussed NAFTA and Mexico’s current reform agenda as well as opportunities to increase commercial linkages with Asia.

Khosla who spoke about how UC San Diego is uniquely positioned on the border, giving opportunity for increased engagement, collaboration and exchange with Mexican scholars and students.

“Our Mexico Moving Forward symposium underscores our commitment to our Binational Regional region,” said Khosla.

Binational RegionalCowhey also spoke to the rich benefits of the U.S. and California having a more collaborative relationship with Mexico, a major impetus behind the tradition of Mexico Moving Forward, which was first launched as part of UC San Diego’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2011.

“We created Mexico Moving Forward as a convening of scholars and leaders to undertake an open dialogue based on serious reflection and thought,” Cowhey said. “We believe that the university environment is the perfect incubator, and UC San Diego has had a long tradition of fostering policy-relevant research on Mexico.”

Cowhey added that the symposium was a perfect opportunity to celebrate Mexico as a strong North American partner to the U.S. and the prospects of both countries “creating positive change for the world.”

Mexico Moving Forward’s board member at Grupo Viz. Smith spoke to the diplomatic benefits of the agreement. “People can debate much if NAFTA has been more successful for Mexico than it has for the U.S.,” he said. “But one of the primary goals of NAFTA was to improve the U.S. relations with Mexico. Our bilateral relations have improved tremendously over the years and [the U.S. and Mexico] pulling together has been a very important aspect of this trade agreement.”

NAFTA EPAThe third session brought together leaders of several top think tanks to discuss how President Enrique Pena Nieto’s new reform agenda will support Mexico in taking advantage of new opportunities for growth. Clare Seelke of the Congressional Research Service spoke about the bi-national challenge of migration. The panelists concluded the session by speaking about solutions to problems of persistent violence and economic inequality blocking reforms in Mexico. “We need to harmonize changes in Mexico’s federal and state governments,” Seelke said.

Closing out the daylong symposium was a look beyond North America to nations in Asia, across the Pacific. This session examined how the economic ties between Mexico and Asia can be strengthened and the role Mexican foreign policy will have on the world’s stage in the 21st century.

The International Economic Relations at IR/PS panelists spoke about the prospects of Mexico becoming a global economic, diplomatic and strategic power. “The opening wedge is to create an economic relationship [with countries like China]. Once Mexico has deeper diplomatic relations with countries in the Asia Pacific, it will have to learn how to foster those relationships.”



More information: 

Text of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – here
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada background info on NAFTA – here
Canadian Press – The smallest economy, Mexico has emerged as biggest winner of NAFTA deal – here
Globe and Mail – Free trade transformed Canada’s economy – here
Toronto Star/Bruce Campbell – Free trade’s tarnished silver anniversary – here


U.S.-Mexico relations on the 20th Anniversary of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

What’s the Matter With California? Student Dispatches From Santa Cruz to the Border
March 7, 2014, The Nation features USMEX event.

Conference looks at Mexico 20 years after NAFTA
March 7, 2014, UT-San Diego features USMEX event.

20 Years Later: NAFTA’s Impact On San Diego-Mexico Trade
Mach 5, 2014, KPBS interviews Peter Cowhey and Gordon Hanson (video)
Related link (KPBS (audio))

Mexico Moving Forward Symposium to Look at NAFTA ’20 Years of Beyond’
Feb. 27, 2014, UC San Diego News

Putting the NAFTA Puzzle Together
Jan. 16, 2014, IR/PS News

Event Videos:

Mexico Under The ‘New’ PRI: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Videos:

Mexico Looking Back: NAFTA at 20

Mexico on the Move: Reforms for the 21st Century

Mexico Looking Forward: Pacific Partnerships

“Mexico and the U.S: Forever Together”




Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Center for US-Mexican Studies

On 20th Anniversary Of NAFTA, Mexican, Canadian

School of International Relations and Pacific Studies

the Mexican Embassy

Smart Border Coalition – San Diego | Tijuana Mega Region

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