On Thursday, October 19, the Texas Business Leadership Council held their Fall Members Meeting at the historic St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Eddie Aldrete, Senior Vice President of IBC Bank, moderated a discussion titled “NAFTA and the New North America.” Panelists included Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce; Chamber Energy and Sustainability Committee Chair Brandon Seale, President of Howard Energy Mexico; and Glafiro Montemayor Quintanilla, President and CEO of GEMCO Group.
Eddie, who serves as co-chair of the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition (TMTC), which is dedicated to fortifying the strong economic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, stated that more than 380,000 jobs in Texas are directly related to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Signed in San Antonio in 1993, the local economic impact of the agreement is 200,000 jobs, 63,000 directly attributed to NAFTA.
Earlier last week after the fourth round of negotiations of the 1994 agreement, negotiators seemed to be at an impasse. In an effort to work out their differences, negotiators are delaying their next talks by nearly a month. During this time of uncertainty, Richard Perez stated that we should “put time and effort into what we know can make this city and region grow, which NAFTA does.”
Though initially seen as political posturing, investments on our continent have stalled, and the uncertainty of the outcome of these talks is further weighing on businesses. Referencing the critical trade relationship, Mr. Montemayor stated, “In today’s economy, the only way to compete is as a region. Doing so alone is not effective.”