The timely ratification of NAFTA is of inestimable importance, not only to the United States but to the entire hemisphere. It provides an historic opportunity for expanding hemisphere economic integration. NAFTA also has the potential to help rouse the global economy from its present malaise. The consumer benefits from unhampered global trade are enormous. Even green groups stand to profit. The $130 billion a-year environmental clean up industry stands to benefit from the ratification of the accord.
NAFTA also offers an opportunity to manage the fast growing trade relationship between Mexico and the United States. A recent Banker's Trust report reveals that Mexico will soon replace Japan as the United States' biggest trading partner. With or without an agreement, the two economies will become more intertwined. Capital investment, made more attractive by Mexico's embrace of liberal economic principles is going to continue, and NAFTA will provide instructive guideline.
While we should not necessarily sub ordinate environmental concerns to economic issues, ecological issues should not be an impediment to this important agreement. Any environmental impact statement filed before the treaty is signed is necessarily speculative. If the administration's appeal is unsuccessful, then the impact statement most be done with utmost speed.
A NAFTA victory would be worth the expenditure of political capital. A dynamic international trading regime requires a firm, innovative leader at the helm. NAFTA will afford President Clinton that opportunity.
Richey's stunning ruling has carved out a niche for the not-illegitimate concerns of environmentalists. They are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with.
Those groups filing suit have, for now, appropriated the agenda. They continue to ignore the North-South cultural and economic divide which NAFTA can bridge.