Transnational Research Associates


Art Madsen, M.Ed.


Orme, W., Understanding Nafta: Mexico, Free Trade and North America, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1996.

Unlike many publications that deal with all three NAFTA countries, Orme focuses his attention on the Tex-Mex border, with special emphasis on the Mexican side of the equation. He catalogs progress made to date and does so quite effectively with charts and figures in support of his generally optimistic assessment.

Interestingly, in a chapter entitled "The Hidden Target: NAFTA and Japan", he hits upon some truly original and potentially profitable points. By including Japan in the equation of trade development, it is possible to inject external capital and technology into what would otherwise be a Tex-Mex picture. Orme mentions the Ford-Mazda plant in Hermosillo, for example, casting light onto a trilateral arrangement that has implications for enhancing the US-Mexican side of the relationship. This valuable and topical book would be best suited for innovative entrepreneurs along the U.S./Mexican border.

Riggs, A. and Velk, T., Beyond NAFTA: An Economic, Political and Sociological Perspective, The Fraser Institute, McGill University, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1993.

The specific questions that businessmen may have about NAFTA are only answered in part in this attractively designed text, composed of a collection of independently written essays. Nonetheless, a competently drafted section, by Brian Russell, on Industrial Policy, Subsidies and Trade Law is illuminating, in my opinion, because it focuses on serious problems emerging in trilateral NAFTA trade patterns, and provides several plausible answers.

In spite of its partially sociological outlook, this book can be extremely useful for firms in their early planning and assessment activities. It sheds light on commercial banking, political policy making as well as on the massive changes taking place in NAFTA trade patterns.

Roberts, K and Wilson, M., Policy Choices: Free Trade among NAFTA Nations, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 1996.

The first three chapters of this book devote attention, as logic would dictate, to the three NAFTA nations, making a case for and against this Treaty as viewed from the perspectives of each country. The reader comes away with the initial impression that the U.S. stands to lose quite a bit, while Mexico might benefit enormously. Canada and Mexico, together, might benefit mutually at the probable expense of the U.S., the authors assert in tone, if not directly.

Attention is subsequently given to the implications of agricultural trade, resurrecting many of the old arguments about the workforce in each nation, and probable net gains and losses. Roberts’ and Wilson’s statistical section (mostly bar graphs) is helpful to beginning students of NAFTA, but seems inadequate for serious professional use. On balance, this is a text containing case studies, interpretative material and speculative insight on matters vitally affecting the success or failure of NAFTA. All of this information is relevant and topical.


Dwyer, P. and Magnussen, P. "Between Nafta and a Hard Place: How Mexico Will Test the Next President", Business Week, November 6, 2000, 64.

After confirming that Presidential Candidates Bush and Gore are both in favor of the 1994 NAFTA agreement, Dwyer asserts that there will doubtless be a trade-related upheaval between the new American President and Vincente Fox, recently elected Mexican President.

This article contends that American Labor Unions will be quite upset if the new American President embarks on a major new ‘trade and commerce’ thrust with Mexico. American labor wants and needs protection from Mexican workers, in spite of NAFTA’s well-intentioned premises. Because Mexico is America’s second largest trading partner, the new American president is really going to have his hands full, trying to balance all elements of this delicate trade question. Dwyer’s article, which seems reliable, is essential reading for business executives whose need for insight into potential tensions along the border is great.

Litan, R. "Trade Policy: What Next?", The Brookings Review, Fall 2000, 41-43.

This article, published in a highly distinguished theoretical review and written by a Vice-President of the Brookings Economic Studies Program, paints the world trade picture with broad strokes and refers to NAFTA only indirectly within the context of the WTO and GATT. The World Trade Organization faces choices and problems similar to those encountered by Mexico, Canada and the United States. Litan outlines the "so-nothing" strategy built on the recognition that globalization is occurring anyway, and contrasts it with other options, such as removing tariffs from goods produced in Third World Nations or artificially interfering, through liberalization, with free-flowing rade patterns now underway.

This article is quite abstract, focusing on the macro-dynamics of world trade with only some relevance to the down-to-earth issues facing NAFTA. It would be of limited use to pragmatic business executives, except for improving their grasp of major trends and options.

Luceno, J. "Approaching a Borderless America", World Trade, February 2001, 58-59.

Writing in a prestigious journal, Luceno opens by asserting that most tariffs and trade barriers have been lifted under the terms of NAFTA. There are still major problems, however, with Customs Clearance, she states. Less-than-Truckload (LTL) shipments are especially problematic, with delays surpassing three hours on average. This problem exists on the Canadian Border as well as along the Mexican Border.

The author claims that some progress is being made, but the reader comes away with the disturbing image of long lines of 18-wheelers delayed for hours or even days as their cargo is meticulously inspected. Trucking companies and industrial firms would gain insight in how and why these problems occur by reading this well-written, but brief account in World Trade.


AAA Trading Company, "NAFTA Nations, a New World of Business Opportunity",

This Internet site is both comprehensive and fascinating. It provides detailed data, regulations and guidelines for commercial firms conducting business in any one of the three NAFTA countries. Specific links lead the surfer to Tri-National Customs Laws and Implementing Legislation, all of which are indispensable for ensuring expeditious handling of cross-border transactions and shipments. The inclusion of an Official U.S. Customs Guide was found to be particularly useful as was the Mexican Section on the full range of Mexican Free Trade Zone Industries, inclusive of Maquiladoras, located at this subsidiary link:

By consulting the wide range of options on the AAA Trading Company site, questions about tariffs, fees, quarantine policies, special laws and procedures will definitely be answered. This site, therefore, is an ideal resource for traders, commercial firms and industrial executives seeking timely, accurate and in-depth data on NAFTA restrictions, rules and guidelines.