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President Pena Nieto in Mexico City on Nov. 9
President Pena Nieto in Mexico City on Nov. 9
Armando Román Zozaya

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto recently told a gathering of CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that his country sees no need to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States. Instead, it merely should be "modernized" or updated. That, he stated, would mean adding areas not included in the treaty originally, like labor and environmental issues.

Peña Nieto's words are not easy to understand. Firstly, NAFTA already included issues like labor and the environment. In fact, to ensure fair competition and economic growth without significant environmental harm or work exploitation, the signatories — Canada, Mexico and the United States — added the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) to the main NAFTA accord.

Secondly, it is very hard to simply update a trade treaty of NAFTA's scope without effectively renegotiating it, or at least opening the door to its renegotiation.

Thirdly, what does "modernizing" the treaty mean? In keeping with the theory of economic integration, once a free-trade zone is established, what follows is setting up a customs union complemented by a common market, which is then followed by monetary union, then fiscal unification, which means total economic union — and some would say economic union must precede political union.

So, what does President Peña Nieto consider to be viable new proposals for NAFTA? Should it be updated with a customs union, then a North American common market? Does he think the incoming U.S. president, Donald Trump and his hawkish administration will take a positive view of this "modernization," without a more comprehensive renegotiation?

And if this modernization does not involve anything within the theory of integration, what does it mean?

Peña Nieto's declarations seem improvised and impoverished in every sense. At the very moment that our country faces a critical scenario, the president uses a high-profile international gathering to start flippantly toss out senseless phrases. The signal this sends to investors, markets and businessmen everywhere is potentially quite harmful to Mexico's interests.

The Trump presidency is a colossal challenge for Mexico. Optimism and good vibes will not save us from the crisis that could erupt if Trump carries out his electoral promises.The Mexican government really must take what is happening and what could happen very seriously. A good start would be to ensure that in issues of crucial importance to the country, the head of the executive branch should not, under any circumstance, talk for the sake of talking.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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