Schaefer urges Mexico to pitch NAFTA in Northeast,Midwest Stop preaching to 'choir,'he says

July 20, 1993|By Ginger Thompson | Ginger Thompson,Mexico City Bureau

MEXICO CITY — In a business article in The Sun yesterday, the Mexican finance secretary was listed as being among those who met with Gov. William Donald Schaefer in Mexico City. It was the commerce secretary with whom the governor met.

The Sun regrets the errors.

MEXICO CITY -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer wrapped up a three-day trip to Mexico yesterday advising this country's top political leaders that if they want the North American Free Trade Agreement to be ratified by the U.S. Congress, they must stop preaching to the choir.

In meetings with the secretaries of Finance, Social Development and the mayor of Mexico City, Mr. Schaefer emphasized yesterday that too much time was being spent courting political leaders of states along the U.S.-Mexican border. Leaders in those states -- which stand to benefit from increases in trade, funds to clean air and water of border cities and decreases in illegal immigration -- were almost unanimously in favor of NAFTA.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"They are selling to the choir," Mr. Schaefer said, referring to a meeting last weekend between high-level Mexican and American trade officials in which they discussed financing for infrastructure improvements along the border. "That meeting was good, but they need to have meetings in the Midwest and Northeast."

Politicians from many industrial states in the Northeast and Midwest remain divided on NAFTA. The treaty would, over time, eliminate all tariffs on goods shipped between the United States, Mexico and Canada, bringing together a market of some 350 million consumers.

While Mr. Schaefer supports the treaty, there is staunch opposition from U.S. representatives, including 7th District Democrat Kweisi Mfume and 2nd District Republican Helen Delich Bentley, who have said the treaty threatens American jobs and would make it easy for U.S. companies to relocate to Mexico, where wages are lower and enforcement of environmental laws lax.

Last night, Mr. Schaefer was scheduled to meet with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.The governor said that he hoped to make it clear that, with or without NAFTA, he would promote trade between Mexico and Maryland.

Last year, Maryland exports to Mexico totaled about $60 million, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. In October, Mr. Schaefer said the governor of the Mexican state of Jalisco would bring a group of business leaders to Maryland to promote opportunities to expand trade evenfurther

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