Op-ed: NAFTA has fueled job growth

In an opinion piece published Monday, Chairman of the Board of the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos Eduardo Bravo details the positive impact NAFTA has had on U.S. job growth.

As a Mexican national who has been doing business in Mexico and the U.S. since 1988, who launched a publishing business in 1992, who moved from Mexico to San Antonio in 2009, and who has continued doing business in both countries, I believe that North America is better off with NAFTA, than without it.

NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — united Canada, Mexico and the U.S. as a powerful trading bloc. The agreement provides a business-friendly environment so the three nations can trade products and services more easily by eliminating tariffs and trade barriers.

Since its implementation in the early 90’s, NAFTA has stimulated economic growth and sustained the economies of the three-nation region. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, exports grew over 45 percent in 2011 and were strongest to the U.S. NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico. U.S. trade with Mexico increased substantially in 2011, with metropolitan area exports to Mexico increasing by 21.6 percent between 2010 and 2011.

I have seen many business success stories unfold thanks to NAFTA. Corona, for example, is a Mexican beer that was introduced in the U.S. in 1981. After NAFTA was implemented, the trading process became easier and the brand’s marketing efforts helped it become the number one import beer in the U.S. The beer that originated in Mexico crossed borders when the brand and its parent company were acquired by Anheuser-Busch earlier this year. In San Antonio’s key grocery store chain, H-E-B, one can buy cookies, cheeses, fruits, candies and many other products from my homeland because H-E-B operates in Mexico and the U.S. thanks to NAFTA.

Additionally, NAFTA has made it easier to buy American products in Mexico. I can shop at H-E-B and other stores in Mexico and buy Procter & Gamble and other American-made products that we could not buy in Mexico before NAFTA. When I lived in Mexico and wanted American products before NAFTA, the taxes imposed on American products made them unaffordable. In fact, people called “contrabandistas” would buy American products, smuggle them into Mexico, and sell them to Mexicans at three times the American price. Smuggling American products into Mexico is less common because NAFTA eliminated tariffs.

Mexico is also the second largest destination for U.S. exports and the third largest source of imports; six million American jobs depend on trade with Mexico. The business landscape in Mexico has become Americanized.

Mary Kay is a testament to the beauty of NAFTA. In 2007, Mary Kay, one of the largest direct-selling skin care and color cosmetic companies in the world, opened a new headquarters and distribution center in the Northern Mexico region. The new distribution center focuses on the needs of some 200,000 Mary Kay independent beauty consultants throughout Mexico, increasing Mary Kay’s business capacity by 50 percent. Mary Kay similarly operates in Canada.

Caterpillar also paved its way to Mexico and Canada, and is a huge supporter of NAFTA. Many of Catepillar’s U.S. employees depend on international trade for their livelihoods. That is why the company is a strong advocate for international trade and NAFTA.

These are just a few examples. There are hundreds more. In the future, the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos will hold more frequent summits to continue the international dialogue on how to take NAFTA to a higher level that will benefit the entire world.

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