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Administration Stand on NAFTA

March 26, 1993

U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor's tough stand on environment and labor reforms (editorial, March 11) for the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement is understandable. It will be a gross mistake to overlook Mexico's sordid conditions in maquiladoras, its serious public health problems in border communities and the myriad American firms moving south to escape U.S. workplace regulations.

Mexico must take note that NAFTA will open a large section of its economy to investment from the United States and Canada. It will create a bilateral free trade in almost all farm products and apparel while doing away with import quotas, licensing schemes, discriminatory procurement by government agencies and state-owned companies. They have as much to gain from this pact as the United States and Canada. The NAFTA language emphasizes and holds Mexico to legal standards comparable to those in the U.S.; therefore, it is equally important for Kantor to ask for the reforms in environment and labor.

As for his tough talking, remember this man is a political wheeler-dealer whose training as an aggressive lawyer makes him a combatant warrior, but good political warriors are known to be good diplomats. In the end NAFTA will pass, but Mexico will have to consent to some of Kantor's demands, which of course must be realistic, given Mexico's resources to fulfill them.

DANIEL GIZAW

Tustin

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