Trump just might be giving us the opportunity to make NAFTA even stronger

6/7/2017 Dallas News

By Alan Bersin, Mexico Institute Global Fellow and Former Commissioner, U.S. CBP

Donald Trump’s campaign, when it turned to issues, focused on migration, borders and trade. Characteristic of populist crusades, it zeroed in on foreigners to explain this country’s purported loss of greatness. Mexico and Mexicans were targeted with particular venom: NAFTA was the worst trade deal ever, Mexican migrants were rapists and thugs, and only a big wall could ensure our border security. In office, the administration’s initial policy pronouncements tracked the rhetoric: NAFTA will be scrapped, undocumented migrants will be deported and the wall will be built.

Two months into governing, the new administration’s messages remain mixed, but talk has turned from abject negation of the North American Free Trade Agreement to likely renegotiation with a decidedly positive focus on competitiveness. The realities of the complex, symbiotic U.S.-Mexican relationship have begun to assert themselves: We don’t trade with one another so much as make things together, and both countries protect themselves through shared perimeter security systems that won’t work absent trust and confidence between officials on both sides of the border.

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