Friday, October 27, 2006

U.S. riles neighbors with border fence plan

Sources: BBC, KU-TV

North American poet Robert Frost is perhaps most well known for his poem “Mending Wall”, which begins “[s]omething there is that doesn’t love a wall…” This monumental work is called to mind given the reaction elicited by U.S. plans to build a wall on its southern border.

U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 into law, setting into motion a plan to “take control” of the U.S. border with Mexico by erecting a 700 mile (1,125 kilometer) fence. The move was condemned by current Mexican President Vicente Fox, as well as President-Elect Felipe Calderon. Both have compared the border fence to the Berlin Wall and called it “deplorable,” “an embarrassment to the United States,” and a grave mistake.

However, opposition to the wall is not limited to Mexico. A coalition of 27 countries joined Mexico in making a declaration to the Organization of American States (OAS) expressing “profound concern” over the plan. Additionally, Mexico plans to take its concerns to the United Nations (UN) and has urged Canada to join it on opposing the U.S. border fence.

The question raised by such political developments is to what extent—if any—they will affect economic relations between the U.S. and its neighbors to the south (as well as Canada, should that nation join Mexico in condemning the plan). While the United States has long been invulnerable to outside pressures due to its dominant economic and political stature, this may be less the case given the growing economic interdependence between nations that has resulted from international trade and expanding markets together with the slowing-down of the U.S. economy.

Mexican leaders noted that the plan revealed the United States' inability to see immigration as an issue of shared responsibility and that "building walls is an unfriendly gesture" that will not solve the immigration problem.

Conversely, U.S. officials contend that the plan will lead to "orderly migration."

1. What role does politics play in trade relations?

2. Might the U.S. border wall plan have negative repercussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and/or plans for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)?

1 comment:

JoeC said...

Like Bush planned to fund the Iraq war with the oil he confiscated, he has another novel idea on how to fund the fence...Tourism!