More than two decades ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed at the German-English School on South Alamo Street in San Antonio. On Friday, U.S. Representatives William Hurd and Henry Cuellar held a meeting at the Pearl Stable, where they shared their hopes for modernizing the agreement.
Congressman Hurd said he's pushing for re-negotiations before the end of 2017.
"Capital expenditures in South Texas and Northern Mexico have basically stopped because of the uncertainty with what happens around NAFTA. So we want to make sure that we're stabilizing markets."
Hurd also proposed changes that would give the U.S. more clout across the border.
"When NAFTA was signed, foreign direct investment was not allowed in the energy sector in Mexico," he said. "US customs or USDA inspectors were not allowed to carry sidearms into Mexico which impacts our ability to do some kinds of inspections. Having some of these changes codified in NAFTA 2.0 are very important not just for the U.S., but something we know that Mexico wants to do."
Rep. Cuellar discussed strategies for expanding cooperation between U.S. and Mexican customs officials, allowing goods to flow across the border more efficiently. He used operations at the Port of Laredo, in his home district, as an example.
"If you look at the Port of Laredo, not the customs duty but just the Port of Laredo, we're already doing this on a day-to-day basis, working with the Mexicans to make sure we have facilitation."
In early July, Rep. Cuellar argued on behalf of a $100 million plan to revamp the World Trade Bridge at the Port of Laredo.
At the luncheon Friday, Cuellar and Hurd advocated streamlining the North American Development Bank and creating a guest worker system based around market demand.
Earlier this week, President Trump vowed to aid U.S. manufacturing by reducing the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico.