Mexico business owners brace for the worst outcome from NAFTA negotiations

World Today

Mexico business owners brace for the worst outcome from NAFTA negotiations

Business is booming for a clothing assembly factory located in the central Mexican state of Puebla. Its exports are made possible by the North American Free Trade Agreement. The fast-moving fashion industry in the United States is what makes success possible for the factory.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

Every month, the factory can produce 100,000 pieces of clothing and export them directly to stores in Los Angeles, New York and Houston. The company is called Confecciones de Punta. Jose Luis Hachity is the CEO. For nearly 35 years, he’s been a leader in North America’s clothing production industry.

“When NAFTA came into effect, we did not have to go to the U.S. and make sales,” said Hachity. “Instead, U.S. clothing industry leaders came looking for us.”

Hachity knows that many small and medium-sized Mexican businesses fear that the end of NAFTA is near. He says even if the U.S. withdraws from the trade deal, geographic proximity to the U.S. gives Mexico an unbeatable advantage.

“We are more efficient when it comes to logistics because we are delivering our products within three weeks,” said Hachity. “No other country, not even Asian ones, can do that. Nowadays, that is crucial in the fast-paced fashion industry, where designs change from one month to the next. We are able to keep up with those changes.”

Trade expert Luz Maria de la Mora was among Mexico’s original team of NAFTA negotiators in the mid 1990s. She knows U.S. President Donald Trump opposes NAFTA because he believes it created a trade deficit with Mexico. But she says that view is short-sighted.

“Overall let’s say that tomorrow President Trump by his policies he would eliminate completely trade deficit with Mexico, the trade deficit will increase with another country because there is an appetite, there is a need in the U.S. for have this kind of imports,” said one of Mexico’s original NAFTA negotiators Luz Maria de la Mora.

Mexican clothing makers say half a million textile jobs could depend on the outcome of the NAFTA re-negotiations. Meantime, Mexican textile factory owners are working quickly to find new markets, in case the U.S. raises import duties. And they have been lobbying the U.S. and Mexican governments in an effort to make certain this tag is still widely available in stores all across North America.