Fox's Neoliberal Agenda

Jay Moore research at
Wed Aug 16 08:10:34 MDT 2000

Fox seeks closer North American ties
Mexican leader will request billions in
investment as first step toward a common market

The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Mexico City -- Mexican president-elect Vicente Fox wants to move fast to
draw North America closer together, starting with a request that Canada and
the United States inject billions of dollars into a development fund for his
growing country.

Days before his first official visit to Canada and the United States, Mr.
Fox explained his vision for a common North American market, where people,
companies, money, goods and services could travel freely throughout North
America. The three countries also would adopt a common currency and a common
monetary policy, all within 30 years.

"The first step should be to sit down and think, decide where we want to be
in the year 2030; where we three countries want to be," he said in an
interview yesterday. "How we want to see the relationship then, specifically
how we want to see Mexico. Because Mexico, let's face it, it's way, way, way
behind United States and Canada," he told The Globe and Mail.

If the huge gap in wealth and wages between Mexico and its two neighbours
persists, Mr. Fox said, the trilateral relationship will only get worse and
hurt all three countries.

"Either we become real partners, real friends and real neighbours with equal
degrees of development, with convergence in our economies, or the situation,
specifically the border between the United States and Mexico, will worsen.
The narco-trafficking will not be eliminated. The migration problem will
still be there."

Leaders from the three countries need to come up with a common, long-term
vision that will bring Mexico to a level of wealth and development on a par
with its northern neighbours, he continued.

"And I know that maybe for the United States and Canada, this is not
important. But to us in Mexico, it's key. It's crucial. And yes, we are
requesting solidarity. We are requesting friendship. And we are requesting
very specific things."

In particular, Canada and the United States should consider beefing up a
development bank for Mexico, which already exists under the North American
free-trade agreement. The bank has a capital base of about $1-billion
(U.S.), but it needs at least $10-billion to be effective, Mr. Fox insisted.

In 1998, Mexico's gross domestic product per capita, a key measure of
wealth, was $7,704 (U.S.), compared to $23,582 in Canada and $29,605 in
United States, according to the United Nations human-development report.

But Mexico is growing fast; economists predict economic growth of as much as
7 per cent this year compared to 4.5 per cent in Canada and 4.9 per cent in
the United States.

Mr. Fox, who won Mexico's highest office in an election on July 2, will be
the first president in 71 years from outside the Institutional Revolutionary
Party. He takes office in December.

Mr. Fox is billing his trip north (Canada today and tomorrow, followed by
Washington) as a non-working, get-to-know-you visit to Prime Minister Jean
Chrétien and President Bill Clinton.

But it's clear he already means business.

During the wide-ranging interview, Mr. Fox frequently referred to the
European Union as a model for North America. The EU, he points out, has set
up a $35-billion fund to bring new, underdeveloped members of the union up
to the same economic level as the rest of the EU."I would use the wisdom of
the European Community. They built up what they have today over 40 years."

While Mr. Fox will no doubt receive a warm welcome next week, his idea for
economic integration will probably only meet a polite response. Politicians
from both countries have been noncommittal to Mr. Fox's plan so far.

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