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Want a better NAFTA? The Economist Says Endorse Free Movement of People

By: Yaël Ossowski - @YaelOss - Jan 9, 2014, 6:19 am

EspañolLast month I invoked the 21st anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement by arguing that a Schengen-type agreement allowing free movement of people, now reigning in Europe, would be the best way forward for North America.

In my experience, living in Europe for the past year, the idea of a border-less world is not just some kind of Utopian fantasy but a true reality that works. I can drive to a Hungarian health spa an hour away in the morning with no hassle, get lunch in the Czech Republic on the way back without perturbation, and enjoy a Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna by mid-afternoon in complete relaxation. The government never stops me, questions me, or asks me to justify my travel.

Such freedom enhances not just travel but also trade, and would do wonders for North America as an economic bloc.

It would allow goods and services to flow between borders without bureaucratic intervention, inevitably the most difficult part of trading with people across national lines. It would allow people in economically devastated areas to find more accessible work elsewhere, without the threat of prison or deportation which that separates them from their families.

TLC_mapI’ve lived the past 20 years of my life shuffling between the Canada-US border and the borders of Europe, and there’s no question as to which is better. A free movement of people and goods is what is needed, for the sake of increased freedom and increased economic potential.

The Economist, in its latest issue, echoes my argument:

“The bloc should embrace the freer movement of people. NAFTA had virtually nothing to say about labour mobility at its launch, beyond creating a visa category for “professionals”. The United States is not about to embrace European-style open borders, but more generous dispensations for frequent travellers from Mexico would be a start.”

They also make a broader point that Central American and South American states should have a path to enter NAFTA, so as to better promote free trade and migration throughout the hemisphere. More can be found here.

Yaël Ossowski Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, informational entrepreneur, and Senior Development Officer for Students For Liberty. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria. Follow @YaelOss and on his website Yael.ca. Read his featured PanAm Post column, "Question the Narrative."