NAFTA key to economic, social growth in Mexico

The Washington Times, 5/14/12

The North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 1994, has been the key driver of Mexico’s economic and social transformation of the past 20 years, analysts say. NAFTA at first brought an explosion of low-skill-labor factories to the Mexican side of the U.S. border. By the mid-2000s, the trade pact had triggered an increasingly sophisticated manufacturing base that now reaches across Mexico’s 31 states.

“What we’re seeing now is a growth of industry in Mexico that requires more engineers,” said Christopher Wilson, an associate with the Mexico Institute at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “To put a name on it, specifically, we’re talking about automobiles and aerospace,” Mr. Wilson said. “Mexico is now graduating more engineers than Germany every year.”

A 40 percent jump in Mexico’s per capita gross domestic product since the inception of NAFTA has brought with it an increasingly robust middle class. “What that means is Mexicans are becoming more educated, and there is more investment in children, which is why you are able to see the development of an aerospace sector,” Mr. Wilson said.

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