Nafta politics are as complex south of the border as they are in the north. Its advocates see it as a cornerstone of Mexico’s opening to the world; its detractors, as a neoliberal tool of imperialist gringos.Some credit it — or blame it — for most of what has happened here over the last two decades, from the country’s moving to a multiparty democracy, to millions trekking to El Norte, to violent drug gangs ravaging border towns.With the United States economy 10 times the size of Mexico’s, the effects of Nafta are far greater on this side of the river. It has physically reshaped Mexico’s landscape, from its growing industrial cities to its emptying farming villages. It rocket-boosted trade between the countries, from $104 billion in 1994 to $583 billion last year, representing everything from sparkplugs to airplanes to Christmas trees.Thanks to Nafta, Mexico has become the biggest carmaker in Latin America, overtaking Brazil in 2014.But despite these gains, the Mexican economy is sluggish compared with that of developing countries such as India and China.It has grown by an average of 2.5 percent a year since Nafta, a similar level to the decade before it, and below that of the boom years of the 1960s.
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