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2003 Summer Institute for Teachers

Ten Years After NAFTA:
How Has Globalization Affected Mexico?

Two faces of globalization in Tijuana, Mexico.
Left: The outside of a modern maquila industrial park.
Metales y Derivados, an abandoned battery recycling plant.

Globalization affects us all, and yet the term itself is hard to define. Generally, it can be understood to mean the rapid increase in the mobility of people, capital and information in recent years. Globalization has changed the world on many levels: it affects the products we buy, the foods we eat, the movies we see, the laws we make and the wages we earn. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is just one factor in this larger movement, but it is an interesting example of how the forces of change are playing out around the world.

There are many sides to the NAFTA debate. Labor leaders, environmentalists and free trade advocates have very different ideas about what the future of NAFTA should be. In very rough terms, it can be said that there are two main camps. On the one hand are those who believe that free trade will lead countries to focus on products that reflect their comparative advantage. In this view, by making production more efficient, everyone will benefit because there will be more jobs and cheaper goods available than ever before. The opposing camp believes that, by going global, transnational companies and groups like the World Trade Organization (WTO) are undermining the power of elected governments and the regulations and social safety nets that have been created in the last 100 years to protect workers and the environment from the excesses of capitalism.

At the CLAS 2003 Summer Institute, teachers from around the Bay Area engaged in discussions with experts in a variety of fields — from water pollution along the border, to Mexican agriculture, to U.S.–Mexican diplomacy — who brought to the table a variety of perspectives on NAFTA. On the last day of the workshop, we tried to process what we had learned by asking the following questions:

What is globalization?

What are its pros and cons?

What’s next? Can NAFTA be reformed?

This web site is an attempt to bring the discussion we began at the conference to a wider audience.



Research Questions

What is globalization?

Why did the U.S., Mexico and Canada sign NAFTA?

Why were the labor and environment side agreements added?

Does the labor side agreement protect workers?

Does the environmental side agreement protect the environment?

What is Chapter 11?

How has globalization affected growth in Mexico?

Who benefits from NAFTA?

What is sustainable development?

Should NAFTA be expanded?

© 2012, The Regents of the University of California, Last Updated - December 10, 2003