Intent, Reality and Future of the North American Free Trade Agreement

The Fourth Annual North American Process Symposium

October 5 - 7, 2017
Puebla, Mexico

The School of Public Policy and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute at the University of Calgary, the School of Global Studies at Universidad Anáhuac México, the College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University joined together to discuss the past, present, and future implications of the North American Free Trade Agreement. This conference brought together policymakers, professors, practitioners and government officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States to address NAFTA’s impact, present and future challenges, and policy improvements to cope with the externalities associated with free trade. 

Political rhetoric casts a long shadow over the direction of free trade in North America and there is a clear need to address potential roadblocks in the way of free trade between NAFTA partners. What was the original intent of NAFTA? Where do our shared interests exist? Should NAFTA be improved, and if so, where should we start? How do we encourage regional growth while simultaneously supporting those left behind by globalization? This symposium played a key role in initiating dialogue around global competition for trade, immigration policies, and energy efficiency in North America, and it addressed how to best communicate the benefits of free trade to the public.

Discussions at the previous three symposia have made it clear that business is leading the way to a more integrated and efficient North America. Participants at the fourth annual North American Process Symposium discussed how a more efficient, resourceful, and competitive North America could be developed with valuable insights from policy makers, businesses, and academicians. These combined insights contribute to recommendations for the improvement of NAFTA, and the refinement of the policies surrounding the ramifications of free trade.

Through a series of working groups and plenary sessions, attendees developed specific recommendations concerning NAFTA. The working groups focused on the North American Free Trade Agreement and its impact on trade, energy, and legal immigration. This event resulted in specific and realistic recommendations on ways to improve NAFTA so that North American leaders can make informed decisions about the future of North American trade policy.


October 5: Opening Reception
Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel

6:00pm - 7:30pm

Opening Reception, Ciudad de Puebla conference room, Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel

 Welcome from the three partner universities: ASU, UA, UC

Conference: Featuring a discussion on North America

Keynote Speaker: Jaime Serra Puche, Senior Partner and Chairman of Board,

                                  SAI Consultores, S.C., former Chief NAFTA negotiator &

                                  Former Mexican Minster of Commerce and Finance

Moderator: Carlos Camacho Gaos, Director, School of Global Studies,

                      Universidad Anáhuac México

Oct. 6: Full Day Symposium
Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel

7:30am - 8:00am      

Registration, Ciudad de Puebla conference room, Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel                                                                                                                           

8:00am - 8:20am

Inaugural address by José Antonio Gali Fayad, Governor of the state of Puebla

8:20am - 9:50am

Plenary 1: The original intent of NAFTA: Current economic considerations and unfinished business

  • Moderator: Andrés Rozental, President, Rozental & Asociados, founder of the Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs COMEXI

   Can  Jonathan Fried, Coordinator, International Economic Relations, Global Affairs

            Canada, former Canadian Ambassador to the WTO and former Senior Legal

            Counsel to the NAFTA negotiating team and member of the Canadian NAFTA

            management group

   Mex  Francisco de Rosenzweig, Partner, White and Case; former deputy Minister of

             Foreign Trade, Mexico

    US   Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, COA, former officer of the U.S. Trade

            Representative and former senior advisor to the White House special

            envoy for the Americas

9:50am - 10:20am

Networking Break                        

10:20am - 11:50am

Plenary 2: NAFTA's future, where do we go from here? Areas for improvement

  • Moderator: Jonathan Koppell, Dean, College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University

   Can  David Bercuson, Associate Area Director, International Policy and Trade,

            University of Calgary

   Mex  Juan Pablo Castañón, President, Mexican Business Coordinating Council (CCE)*

    US   Jim Kolbe, Former U.S. Congressman and Senior Transatlantic Fellow,

            German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Conference: The future of North American Integration

Keynote Speaker: Ildefonso Guajardo, Secretary of the Economy, Mexico

1:10 pm - 2:40pm

Plenary 3: Energy in North America

  • Moderator: Dan McFadyen, Director, Extractive Resources Governance Program at School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

   Can  Kelly Ogle, President, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

   Mex  Juancho Eekhout Smith, Vicepresident of Development, Ienova

    US   Andrew Tobin, Commissioner, Arizona Corporation Commission,

            and Program Director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions,

            Arizona State University

            Héctor Moreira Rodríguez, Director of Mexico Energy Initiatives at the

            Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University and

            Commissioner at the Mexican National Hydrocarbons Commission

2:40pm - 4:00pm

Networking Lunch

Kirk Adams, Chief of Staff for the Honorable Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona, and former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives

Amb. Francisco Suárez Dávila, former Ambassador of Mexico to Canada

4:00pm - 6:00pm

Working Group Sessions

  • Group A: NAFTA’s Opportunities and Challenges for Trade

            Subgroup A1 Digital Economy

            Facilitator A1: Paul Beaudry, Director of Development at the School of

                                      Public Policy, University of Calgary

            Subgroup A2 Integrated Industries

            Facilitator A2: Fausto López Aguilar, Free Trade Agreements Management,

                                      Volkswagen México

                                      Juan Ciscomani, Senior Advisor for Regional and International Affairs

                                      Office of the Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey

            Subgroup A3 Intellectual Property

            Facilitator A3: Mauricio Jalife, Partner, Jalife & Caballero

  • Group B: North American Energy: Gas industry - Electric grid (Uniform standards on regulations and materials)

            Facilitator: Roberto Ortega Lomelín, Partner, Structura; former Executive

                                Coordinator for the General Management of Petróleos Mexicanos              

  • Group C: Documented Immigration

            Facilitators: Eric Rojo, Vice president, US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce

                                  Evelyn Cruz, Clinical professor of Law and Director of Immigration

                                  Law and Policy Clinic, ASU

  • Group D: Reaching Societies:Communicating the benefits of trade

            Facilitator: Agustín Barrios-Gómez, Founder and president, Foundation for

                                Mexico’s Image, former Mexican Congressman

6:30pm - 8:30pm

Museo Internacional del Barroco

Cocktail and private guided visit

October 7: Symposium
Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel

9:00am - 9:30am             

Participants regroup for Working Group Sessions Overview, Intercontinental Presidente Puebla Hotel

9:30am - 10:30am

Snapshots: Working Groups, Discussion on Recommendations, Next Steps and Wrap-Up

  • Moderator: Jessica De Alba-Ulloa, Researcher, School of Global Studies, Anáhuac México
  • Working Group Facilitators


Guided visits


             10:30am - 12:00pm Visit to Talavera Factory

             12:00pm - 12:30pm Regional Museum of Cholula

             12:30pm - 2:00pm Visit to Cholula


            10:00am - 11:00am Visit to the Regional Museum Casa de Alfeñique

            11:00am - 11:30am Parián and Artists’ Neiborghood

                                                Calle de los Dulces 

             11:30am - 12:15pm Visit to San Pedro Art Museum

             12:15pm - 12:40pm Santo Domingo Temple (anexa Capilla del Rosario)

             12:40pm - 1:40pm City Hall

                                                Town Square



            10:30am - 12:00pm Visit to Evolution Museum Puebla

            12:00pm - 12:30pm  Tour of the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe

                                                  Tour of theme parks

            12:30pm - 1:15pm Cable car tour 

Plenary 1: The original intent of NAFTA: Current economic considerations and unfinished business
NAFTA was recreated, reconfigured and renegotiated numerous times before it was signed and ratified by the three nations’ leaders and congresses in 1993. Despite years of deliberation, last minute deals and concessions were struck in order to ensure its passing. Economists today express a wide variety of viewpoints and opinions about the effects that NAFTA has had on employment, trade, and immigration. Regardless of overarching disagreements, trade between the three nations increased from $290 billion to $1.1 trillion from 1993 to 2016.

Presently, U.S. politicians blame NAFTA for the decline in domestic manufacturing, Mexican farmers blame NAFTA for the fall is corn prices, and Canada wants to prioritize the infrastructure to sustain a North American energy market. Meanwhile, NAFTA did not anticipate the importance of
the digital economy and sidestepped the issue of labor mobility. Have technological advances and geopolitical considerations limited NAFTA’s ability to meet its original goals? Has NAFTA created inefficiencies, inequalities, or bad deals? What was the original intent of NAFTA, and has NAFTA met the goals it was created to attain?

Plenary 2: Energy in North America
NAFTA nations share a vested interest in the solvency and growth of the North American energy sector. There is also a shared desire to turn North America into a world energy powerhouse. Canada is the United States' largest energy trading partner with over $140 billion dollars in trade in 2013.

Mexico has reformed its energy market by opening to outside investors, and has increased efforts to expand its power grid through securing international investment in large-scale energy production projects. All three nations are investing resources into developing sources of renewable and clean energy. Despite optimism about developing an integrated energy infrastructure and energy market, potential threats include legislation proposing a Border Tax on incoming energy sources from Mexico, legislative and environmental roadblocks in the development of pipelines, and fluctuations in global energy prices.

What recommendations should policy makers consider about the continuity and longevity of trilateral energy partnerships as they negotiate policy changes? What political hurdles prevent the rise of an invigorated North American energy trading partnership? And, what major improvements should be made to NAFTA so that businesses can continue to increase North America’s capital flow for energy infrastructure, including renewable energy?

Plenary 3: NAFTA’s future, where do we go from here?
Integrated supply chains, growing consumer purchasing power, the digital economy and the rise of new energy sources have transformed the global landscape. Should NAFTA be altered, left alone, or replaced by another agreement entirely? If sectors such as energy, the digital economy, intellectual property, and documented labor mobility are negotiated, which policies should be altered to meet the interests of all partners, individually and collectively? 

How would an improved North American trade agreement bolster North America’s ability to compete with other manufacturing leaders such as China? What policy responses can be molded to fit each nation’s economic needs, while simultaneously invigorating North America’s competitiveness in world markets?