March 3, 2008, - 1:15 pm

Phree Trade: So, This is “Free Trade” Under NAFTA, Huh?

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.

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11 Responses

Debbie & Readers
I spent the first 22 years of my life living in Mcallen, Tx (Just 15 minutes from the border). I also spent a considerable amount of time in Mexico on buisness.
The simple fact of the matter is that NO law, NO Gov. entity, or ANYTHING for that matter will keep the mexicans from transporting cars to Mexico. Those Jalopies they describe are 80% of what you see on the border roads & 95% of what you see in the interior.
The Mexican Government has kept their people so poor that the vast majority of people have NO choice but to drive 15-40 year old vehicles. The average American would be SHOCKED to drive down a Mexican highway. To this day you see vehicles cruising down the roads with mexicans using 2×4’s to keep the feet off the road because the floor boards have rusted out. Vans are a hit because they are used to haul 20 people at time (as taxi’s) at Maguiladora’s (American industrial plants in Mexico).
As a young child, I used to accompany my Grandfather into the interior of Mexico. I found out later in life we would go there often because he was making a great living smuggling used car parts into the region.
That article makes me laugh because it’s a joke to me but an even bigger joke to the people down there.
The saddest part of it all is the Mexican Gov WANTS it’s people as poor & hungry as possible.
Maybe this is a concealed effort to drive more Mexicans to the USA???? THink about it… You sure as hell can’t afford one if you live there in Mexico… Come to the USA & we’ll provide you one for free!

RC Flyer on March 3, 2008 at 1:44 pm

One last thing I forgot to mention…
The Article stated “Legally Imported”… Holy cow I’m about to soil myself from laughing hard!

RC Flyer on March 3, 2008 at 1:53 pm

But it’s perfectly OK for the incompetent, Turd-World, corrupt Mexican government to illegally “export” their population (of EVERY age) to the U.S.
Mexico does every day what Fidel Castro did in 1980 with the Mariel Boat Lift. I say boycott Mexican goods, but, then again, so much of our manufacturing went to Mexico that if we did boycott, the only way we could get anything into this country would be from China. What a fucking mess our incompetent, corrupt politicians got us into.

Thee_Bruno on March 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Ok so we are having Mexican’s make our car parts and helping them be employed yet they are not allowed to have the cars? Ok Ford, GM and Chrysler just what are you thinking?
Oh yea buy a American is a crock.

caitlynn on March 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm

I hear ya caitlynn,
My Nissan Maxima was built in Tennessee. The Honda Accords are manufactured in Marysville, OH (just oustide Columbus), but many vehicles made by the Big 3 are manufactured in either Mexico or Canada.

JasonBourne81 on March 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Here in eastern Colorado, I-25 is a direct-connect to Mexico through New Mexico into Tijuana (I think that’s right…not been there…). Several times a year (or month) if you’re heading south out of Colorado Springs, you pass (or are ‘scarily’ passed by) probably 2 or 3 vehicles with temp tags towing vehicles “sometimes” with temp tags that have come to be known locally as the “Tijuana Express”. Apparently buyers come up here and buy up cars that no one wants or that don’t pass the clean air test requirement and drive them to Mexico. Think that traffic will now die down? From RC Flyer’s post, we can reliably doubt it. A couple of weeks ago, one of those “caravans” passing through Pueblo apparently had a vehicle break loose from the towbar and go through the freeway fence into a parking lot. The towing vehicle ended up against the median barrier. Heard that it was one of the Tijuana Express folks…no injuries, just some fairly well bent up metal.

Floyd R. Turbo on March 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Floyd, Tijuana is opposite San Diego. I-5 feeds directly into it. My guess would be that I-25 feeds into Ciudad Juarez or Monterrey?

JasonBourne81 on March 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

Just wait until they start allowing Mexican semis on our roads virtually unreggulated!

JasonBourne81 on March 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Everything I have read inre NAFTA concerns Canada. Yet, NAFTA includes Mexico. It would seem wise to focus on the issues that need to be tweaked on the Mexican side of the issue. Yes, there very well might be issues that should be tweaked on the Canadian side, too.
The problem is the candidates don’t have the stones (balls and ovaries) to be specific, especially about Mexico.

zyzzyg on March 4, 2008 at 9:14 am

JasonBourne81, you’re right, my bad. Knew that, forgot my geography for a nanosecond or two. Regardless, the cars are destined for Mexico, at least that’s the popular assumption. Guess we should call it the “Juarez Express”…um, Tijuana sounds better, though.
BTW, for us old car buffs, that shot of the ’55 Chevy is intriguing. It looks bad to the naked eye, but it also looks complete, at least on the outside. All trim parts seem to be intact. A restorer’s dream. A good restoration shop could turn that baby into a $60K beauty…just sayin’…
Yes, our NAFTA and immigration situations are serious, just looking for a small bright spot or two…

Floyd R. Turbo on March 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm

We should send them our old iron and get some of the little VW and other European diesel cars that are sold down there, and then tell OPEC to piss off.

Derek Kreindler on March 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

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