U.S. businesses feeling the pinch of weaker peso


EL PASO – Six months after the downward slide of the peso in Mexico began squeezing the pocketbooks of Juarez residents, El Paso is starting to feel the sharp impact of less goods being sold on this side of the border, officials say. “I mainly come to El Paso to buy clothes for my son, the jeans and shirts he likes are cheaper here,” said Dona Maria Guadalupe Pacheco, a resident from Ciudad Juarez, who comes to El Paso to buy the items she needs. “I cross the bridge twice a week, I shop here in downtown El Paso. Due to the high price of the dollar, I cannot spend as much money as I used to spend before, I remember spending 50 dollars, now I only spend 20 dollars.” The value of the dollar in the last year has increased about 27.33 percent against the Mexican peso, according to the United States Federal Reserve Bank.

Candy makers call for cheap sugar fix on U.S. side of the border

By Rebecca Anzel, SHFWire.com

WASHINGTON – The U.S. candy industry has a problem. The sugar it needs to produce sweet treats is protected by the government through tariffs and trade restrictions, which drive up the price, industry officials say. This has forced some companies to move  production to places where sugar is cheaper, including Mexico or Brazil. Atkinson Candy Co. is one of those companies.

PiktoChart graphic by Maria Esquinca showing countries in the TPP

New U.S. international trade deal raises concerns about shadowy negotiations

EL PASO — Clouded in secrecy, the United States is negotiating a trade agreement with 11 other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Mexico, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP). TPP has been compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between Mexico, the U.S, and Canada that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and came into effect in 1994. Critics of TPP have referred to it as NAFTA on steroids. The other countries involved in the agreement are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Japan. Negotiations for the treaty have been conducted behind closed doors with no public or congressional input.

Dr. Joe Heyman, a volunteer with Occupy El Paso and a Professor at UTEP, speaks at Santa Fe bridge. (Robert Brown/Borderzine.com)

The Occupy movement took on NAFTA at the Santa Fe Bridge

EL PASO –  While most folks celebrated New Year’s Day with family and friends thinking about those unachievable resolutions, some two dozen people from Occupy El Paso and Occupy Las Cruces flocked to the Santa Fe Bridge, also known as the Puente Del Norte (PDN or Bridge of the North), to protest the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which marked its 18th year on January 1st. With signs demanding an end to NAFTA (Have ta End NAFTA, Free Trade isn’t free, NAFTA Cost Us Our Jobs and the like), members of the Occupy Movements accompanied by members of the El Paso Chapter of The Brown Berets held what they referred to as a teach-in where speakers would speak against NAFTA. “This is one of the ways that we can work on the overall goal which is to make the public aware of the disaster that the last 18 years of NAFTA have been,” said Joe Heyman a volunteer with Occupy El Paso and a Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology Department with the University of Texas at El Paso. Some of the complaints listed in a pamphlet handed out by participants at the rally were that NAFTA has cost 682,900 U.S. jobs, including 35,000 from El Paso, the disparagement in pay between U.S. and Mexican factory workers, and that trade is responsible for 15% – 25% of the growth in wage inequality in the U.S.

One of the speakers at the rally, Lorena Andrade, a member of Mujer Obrera, an organization for working Mexican women, said that the majority of the 35,000 jobs lost belonged to women, most of them older than 50 years of age, with very little English and a low level of formal education. NAFTA is the free trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico which was designed to facilitate International Trade between the countries by opening the borders of each nation to the commodities of the other two member nations and in doing so create the world’s largest free trade area.