Foundation-Building for Western Hemispheric Integration

Abbott, Frederick M. | January 1, 1997

The United States is embarked upon an ambitious program of western hemispheric economic integration about which its domestic body politic is decidedly ambivalent. The process in which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was approved in 1993 re- vealed deep divisions between the major political parties and their various interest group constituencies concerning the appropriate scope of an economic integration agenda. The Mexican peso crisis that began in December 1994 provoked a deep crisis of confidence regarding Mexico’s readiness to participate in a mature economic partnership with the United States and Canada. Subsequent revela- tions relating to corruption infecting the administration of former President Salinas deepened these concerns. As implementation of the NAFTA proceeded, pressures from within the Congress and the 1996 presidential election campaign put on hold negotiations concerning accession of Chile to the NAFTA.