PHARR, RGV – The City of Pharr and the Consulate of Mexico in McAllen hosted a well-attended and in-depth NAFTA seminar.

The attending parties felt the event educated the community about the current renegotiation of NAFTA and how the agreement affects the economy on both sides of the border.

The NAFTA seminar occurred Friday, April 9 at the Pharr Events Center. It featured government officials, industry leaders and trade association representatives from both sides of the border. The event included discussions about how changing NAFTA may impact both the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico.

The attending organizations approved a declaration on NAFTA. These parties included the City of Pharr, the Mexican Consulate, the Asociación de Empresarios-Rio Grande Valley and the Mexican Council of Foreign Relations. Here is the declaration:

Declaration of the Rio Grande Valley on NAFTA:

Those attending the “RGV Seminar on the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship: the North American Free Trade Agreement”, held in the City of Pharr, Texas, Friday, April 6, 2018, state:

  1. Its strongest conviction of the positive impetus generated since the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), particularly for the Rio Grande Valley region, and in general for the economies and nations of the countries parties;
  2. That they recognize the significant increase in foreign trade that the region has had thanks to NAFTA.
  3. Since the entry into force of the Agreement, exports from Texas to Mexico have increased substantially with exports to Mexico, which accounts for 40 percent of Texas’ annual exports, and in 2017, the exchanges between that entity and Mexico exceeded 187 billion dollars.
  4. That the Treaty has brought enormous benefits and opportunities generating jobs, benefiting consumers and entrepreneurs in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas and the United States.
  5. Thanks to NAFTA, productive chains have been generated by multiplying the labor force and promoting competitiveness, innovation, research and development;
  6. That Mexico is the first trading partner for Texas, and that it is precisely the Rio Grande Valley where the effect of NAFTA has been most evident.
  7. That an improved NAFTA is possible, with the understanding that all parties win by a more agile, modern, free trade that generates prosperity for the nations and economies involved.

Pharr, Texas, April 6, 2018

Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, the mayor of Pharr, said state leaders such as state Sen. Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa and state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., are working to make sure the region doesn’t get underrepresented and that local concerns are heard at the federal level. Hinojosa spoke at the seminar.

Hernandez said he was proud to co-host the seminar alongside the Consulate of Mexico because it educated the community on how NAFTA first came to be as well as the economic impact it has had on the RGV and northern Mexico.

“When you put [NAFTA] into perspective we understand how important and vital it is to our economy, to the jobs, as well as the social aspects and benefits for both countries and all the regions. [NAFTA] is not to be used as a political platform,” Hernandez said.

“Everything needs to be tweaked and everything needs to be looked at. We are waiting with open arms and excitement to see what new version comes out, as long as they (the negotiators) remember where we started, where we’re at now and how important it is to both countries.”

Eduardo Guadalupe Bernal Martinez, Mexican Consul to McAllen, said the Rio Grande Valley is of real value to the United States and is a very progressive region. Because of this, he feels the need to educate the community about NAFTA.

“I want to make sure the people of the Rio Grande Valley know that commerce is important in this area. Most of the people don’t know about NAFTA,” Martinez said. “They only know about the sides–the Mexican side, the American side, but what we’re trying to teach them is the academic and business side.”

Asociación de Empresarios-Rio Grande Valley, is an organization that helps entrepreneurs in Mexico relocate to the RGV and prepare them for success. Flavio Garduño, president of the organization, believes in a united region–a similar view to Hernandez.

“The idea is to try to show everybody that the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico has had a commercial relationship for about 200 years. It’s a special situation here in the Rio Grande Valley because on our side of the border, we have people who want to relocate here to grow up, be happy and have a good business,” Garduño said.

“The situation is bigger than McAllen, bigger than Edinburg, bigger than Weslaco, bigger than Mission. We are several cities and we must be united. We must make a plan as a unified RGV because we are bigger than that and we must be untied. That’s the first lesson that we saw here. Pharr is the first city to push this situation.”

Agustín Barrios Gómez, founding member of the Mexican Council of Foreign Relations and member of the Association of Mexican Entrepreneurs, said he wanted to highlight several things in his speech. One was that the United States and Mexico are not neighbors, but roommates. He said the two nations have the most intense relationship between two large countries anywhere.

Another point Barrios Gómez wanted to stress is that while NAFTA is a trade agreement for Canada, it is a geo-political agreement for Mexico. Because it is a geo-political agreement, he said it is the “lynchpin for Mexico’s cooperation with the United States.

“What we have to understand is that NAFTA is the axis, the lynchpin of Mexico being in North America. And the United States needs Mexico to be in North America because it needs to have a cooperative and stable Mexico on its southern border. This is the country with the most enemies in the world and it is the richest country in the world and a superpower and therefore the one with the most to lose,” Gómez said.

“That is something that I do not think has quite permeated. That is something Ronald Reagan understood. Ronald Reagan understood that without Mexico, the United States would be extremely vulnerable. NAFTA is the way it was articulated to bring Mexico into the orbit, the world system that was created by the United States, for the benefit of the United States. Not for the benefit of Mexico.”