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Importance of trade emphasized at NAFTA presentation

JACKSON, Tenn.Oct. 14, 2002 – North American Free Trade Agreement representatives from Canada and Mexico visited Union University’s campus on Tuesday, Oct. 8. The visit was sponsored by the Language Department and the Center for Business and Economic Development. The two men addressed “NAFTA and Free Trade in the Americas.”

Raul Urteaga, the economic counselor at the NAFTA Office at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Carl Rockburne, the consul and trade commissioner for the Canadian Consulate General in Atlanta, were the guest speakers.

NAFTA was enacted in 1994 as an agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States to open each others’ markets for trade. As a result, all three countries’ economies have benefited from this agreement.

According to Urteaga, Mexico owes its economic growth to the passage of this trade agreement.

“In the past, Mexico has spent more than 25 years in economic crisis,” Urteaga said. “But I am happy to say today that our economy has strengthened since the mid-1990’s – when NAFTA was created.”

Another positive result was that trade rates for both Mexico and the U.S. have increased. Tennessee specifically has Mexico as the second largest market for goods exported to Mexico.

Canada also has shown a significant increase in economic rates as a result of NAFTA. According to Rockburne, the U.S. and Canada have the largest bilateral – importing and exporting – trade rate in the world. He said that not only is the economic relationship flourishing but the political one as well, another result of NAFTA.

“The 5,000 mile border between U.S. and Canada is very important,” Rockburne said. “It was realized even more after Sept. 11, when border traffic slowed. Over 200 flights were redirected to us. I can tell you as a proud Canadian about the close relationship the U.S. and Canada share.”

After both men spoke, there was a short question and answer time, where business and language students had the opportunity to ask the representatives about NAFTA, the currently proposed FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), or other economic issues.

For more information on the economic relationships of North America and other trade markets, visit www.ftaa-alca.org or www.infoexport.gc.ca.

By Tracie Holden, Class of 2004

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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