NAFTA lead negotiator for Mexico visits Chicago Booth

On May 4 Dr. Herminio Blanco visited Chicago Booth for a fireside chat with Prof. Robert Topel. Even if you haven't heard Dr. Blanco's name before, you surely will have heard the name for which he became a national milestone in Mexico: NAFTA. Dr. Blanco, as chief negotiator for the three-party deal for Mexico, related through a guided Q&A the story of how one of the most cutting edge international trade agreements came to be. His appearance was particularly relevant given today's political scenario, and the criticism the agreement has received of late.

 

Dr. Blanco spoke about the troubles of coordinating across three economies, two of which are major not only in North America, but in the world. He also spoke about his perspective, working under the then-president Carlos Salinas, trying to consolidate Mexico's long list of requirements with those of world-class negotiators from Canada and the US. In particular, how Mexico had never entered an agreement such as this "and that my counterpart had been negotiating international trade agreements since before I was born" said Dr. Blanco (incidentally, he mentioned, because of this fact it is puzzling why today's US president would label NAFTA as "the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever.")

 

Dr. Blanco levied heavily on the failures of NAFTA, criticizing his own work as lacking in many areas of industry and many resolution mechanisms, and adding that were NAFTA to be re-negotiated (a point that Prof. Topel stressed), the resulting agreement would naught but fortify the positions of all parties. His thoughts center around how, in his position of int national trade consultant and think tank leader in Mexico, the governments of all three countries could shave areas in the agreement little used by anyone, and add areas that for a lack of expertise and time were not included in the original 1994 agreement.


Since NAFTA, Dr. Blanco led the team that negotiated the other 31 agreements that provided Mexico to be the country with the most international trade agreements in the world, which is just one of the many success stories Herminio has had along his 27-year career in international trade.