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Video: A Discussion on the Present and Future of North America

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Speakers:

  • Will Hurd, Congressman (R-TX), Vice Chair, Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives 
  • Chris Padilla, Vice President, Governmental Programs, IBM Corporation; Former Undersecretary for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce 
  • Ann Wilson, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
  • Eric Miller, President, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group; Former Vice President of Policy, North America, Business Council of Canada
  • Antonio Ortiz-Mena, Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group; Former Head of Economic Affairs, Embassy of Mexico in the United States
  • Brian Winter, Vice President of Policy, AS/COA; Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly (moderator)

"NAFTA is not a border issue. It is a number one or number two issue for 30-plus U.S. states," said Representative Will Hurd (R-TX). At the Council of the Americas in Washington on July 12, Hurd addressed the need for governors to articulate the importance the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) plays in their individual economies. He highlighted the opportunities for including energy in the renegotiation of the accord as the best way to offset Mexico's trade surplus with the United States.

Before Hurd spoke, a panel of experts highlighted the most important issues at stake in the renegotiation process, set to begin August 16, as well as the dangers of the United States completely pulling out of the agreement. Such a scenario is a real threat, according to IBM's Chris Padilla, and "it would be economically disastrous for the United States to have a hard crash out of NAFTA," he said. Panelists also voiced the perspective that, for U.S. President Donald Trump to get behind a revised deal, there would have to be provisions that add manufacturing jobs to the U.S. economy. But the capacity to increase those jobs is low, said Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association's Ann Wilson, pointing to how the U.S. vehicle industry is at an all-time high and already at 110 percent capacity. Yet, there are real incentives for all three NAFTA countries to both update and upgrade the agreement to include enhancements that were once part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, such as digital trade provisions.