March 3, 2008, - 1:15 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I believe in the free market, but only when it’s actually a free market. That means level playing fields on both sides. Given that, you have to wonder how the “great” NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, fosters that. The Clintons supported it, and so did most Republicans.
Today, we’ve got a great example of how it fosters Phree Trade (that’s my short hand for Phony Free Trade):
Some are dented, scratched and rusty. Others rattle and belch under faded paint jobs. But the “’98” soaped onto their windshields and a surprise change in Mexican import rules have turned a single year’s worth of used cars into pick of the used-car lot.
Beginning Monday, only cars made for the 1998 model year – none older and none newer – can be legally imported into Mexico. Car dealers were given notice only a month ago.
Until now, used cars 10 to 15 years old were scooped up at auction by South Texas used car dealers and rapidly sold to Mexicans hungry for affordable transportation and “la novedad” – or novelty – of unfamiliar makes and models.
Cars newer than that were banned from imports as unwelcome competition for Mexican car dealers, and anything more than 15 years old was seen as a potential environmental and safety hazard.
But now, under pressure from Mexico’s new car dealers who say “vehiculos chatarra,” or jalopies, undercut their sales, the Mexican government is allowing only 10-year-old used cars to be legally imported into Mexico.
All of a sudden, 1998 Luminas, Astro vans and Ranger pickups are sought-after trophies.
The Mexican Association of Automobile Distributors, which pushed for the change, said it was needed to “stop the accelerated conversion of our country into the world’s biggest automotive garbage dump.”
The Mexican Consulate in McAllen said the change was made “to restrict the entry of vehicles that compete with the Mexican car industry.”
Yup, let’s hear it for Phree Trade . . . from the year 1998.
This reminds me a lot of parts of the Arab world, like Syria, where you can find a lot of American jalopies on the road.
Mexico . . . the new Phree Trade Arab world on our border.
Yo Soy 1998 Americana. (I never learned Spanish, so please forgive me if that’s wrong.)
Can’t wait until Mexico’s gamers are only allowed to play video games from 1998. Oh, wait, most video games aren’t made in the U.S., so they aren’t being cheated and displaced from the market under a Phree Trade agreement like NAFTA.
Tags: car dealers, car industry, Debbie Schlussel, faded paint jobs, Mexican Association of Automobile Distributors, Mexican Consulate, Mexican government, Mexico, Phony Free Trade, Phree Trade, Ranger, Syria, United States