Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Reception 5:00 p.m. ● Lecture 5:30 p.m.
Annenberg Presidential Conference Center
1002 George Bush Drive West
College Station, Texas 77843
Dr. Gregory Gause III, head of the Bush School’s International Affairs Department
Dr. Jaime Serra Puche, lead NAFTA negotiator for Mexico
Douglas George, acting consul general of the Consulate General of Canada
Drayton McLane Jr., chairman of the McLane Group
Jeffrey Jones, former Senator and Undersecretary of Agribusiness Development of Mexico
Matthew Rooney, managing director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
Panel Discussion moderated by Dr. Raymond Robertson, director of the Mosbacher Institute (left)
On February 27, a distinguished group of panelists gathered to discuss the future of free trade in North America. The main speaker was Dr. Jaime Serra Puche, the lead negotiator of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for Mexico. Following his remarks, Drayton McLane Jr., Chairman of the McLane Group; Douglas George, Acting Consul General of the Consulate General of Canada; Jeffrey Jones, former Senator and Undersecretary of Agribusiness Development in Mexico; and Matthew Rooney, Managing Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, joined him on stage for further discussion and questions moderated by Dr. Raymond Robertson, Director of the Mosbacher Institute. The event was cohosted by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, & Public Policy and the Mays Business School Center for International Business Studies.
The evening began with a video of President George H. W. Bush speaking to a 1998 Bush School class praising NAFTA and giving Jaime Serra Puche enormous credit for its successful adoption. A common thread throughout the evening’s commentary was the importance of free trade, support for the successes achieved by NAFTA, and the benefits to all three countries of regional cooperation in a competitive global economy. Dr. Serra’s presentation included a number of graphs indicating the complementary nature of North American economic data and showing how many of the three countries’ economic indicators tend to rise and fall together. The symposium also focused on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which may replace NAFTA, with some differences of opinion as to its strengths and weaknesses. The consensus of the panel was that USMCA is a step backwards—not forwards—from NAFTA and is unfortunately marked by economic protectionism. However, it was made clear that no free trade agreement among the countries would be the worst possible outcome and that the USMCA should be ratified. The panelists agreed that the tendency to blame trade deficits on free trade is inaccurate and that the United States’ trade deficit cannot be decreased by increasing tariffs. They said a more effective step would be reducing the federal debt.
Before the symposium, Dr. Serra met with a group of Bush School students to discuss their questions on free trade and the future of NAFTA. This event touched on the cruciality of free trade and the importance of being neighborly on a global scale. Dr. Serra also stressed that the United States, Mexico, and Canada should all be on the same side of the negotiating table because a strong regional economy is in the best interest of everyone.
Dr. Jaime Serra is Chairman of SAI Law and Economics (consulting firm), founder of Aklara (electronic auctions), and founder of CAM (Arbitration Center of Mexico). He served in the Mexican government from 1986 to 1994 as Undersecretary of Finance, Secretary of Trade and Industry, and Secretary of Finance. As Secretary of Trade and Industry, he led the negotiation and implementation of NAFTA; headed the negotiations of free trade agreements with Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Costa Rica; and promoted the creation of the Federal Competition Commission in Mexico and the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property (IMPI).
Dr. Serra’s collaboration with not-for-profit boards includes the Corporation of Yale University (1994-2001), and he currently co-chairs the President's Council on International Activities. He is a trustee of the National Institute for Genomic Medicine in Mexico and of the Trilateral Commission. Dr. Serra is Chairman of the Board of BBVA Bancomer and Director of the following publicly listed companies: The Mexico Fund, Tenaris, and Vitro.
Dr. Serra is a graduate of UNAM. He earned his Master’s in Economics at El Colegio de Mexico and his PhD in Economics at Yale University. He has been professor of Economics at El Colegio de Mexico, Stanford, Princeton, and NYU. He received, among others, the National Prize for Social Sciences, Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, Mexico (1986); the National Prize for Economics (Banamex 1979); the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, Yale University (1993); and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service (2014). He is married to Joanna Wright, and they have three sons: Sebastian, Daniel, and Julian.
Drayton McLane Jr. serves as Chairman of the McLane Group and is the former CEO of the Houston Astros Baseball Club. A native Texan, this acclaimed businessman, leader, and generous philanthropist, ensures the focus of all his endeavors is based upon strong Christian values and moral ethics.
The grandson of a successful entrepreneur, Mr. McLane experienced firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to successfully thrive in industry. He began developing his tireless work ethic at age nine by working for his father at the family’s wholesale grocery business, the McLane Company. Mr. McLane received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baylor University in 1958 and his Master of Business Administration degree from Michigan State University in 1959. Upon completion of his formal education, Mr. McLane came back to begin working at the family business loading trucks on the second shift. He worked his way up, and by earning the respect and admiration of his co-workers, he became President and CEO of the company in 1964 and held these positions for thirty years.
During his tenure, he propelled the McLane Company into a nineteen billion dollar company, achieving an average growth rate of thirty percent per year. Following the McLane Company’s merger with Wal-Mart, Inc. in 1990, he became Vice-Chairman of Wal-Mart while maintaining his position at the McLane Company. After playing key roles in each of these companies’ growth and productivity, he resigned in order to devote more time to the McLane Group, a parent company consisting of family owned companies operating throughout the world. The McLane Group, until November of 2011, included the Houston Astros, where he served as Chairman and CEO. Mr. McLane completed his nineteenth season with the Astros in 2011, when he sold the team for over $650 million. Over the years, the team’s philosophy remained consistent – bring home a World Series championship to Houston and make a positive difference in the community. They were unable to bring home a championship, but they were the first Texas team to make it to the World Series and also made a very positive difference in the community.
Douglas George, based in Dallas, is currently the Acting Consul General to the South Central United States, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Prior to arriving in Dallas, he was Consul General of Canada in Detroit from 2014 to 2018 and was responsible for the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. He is a career diplomat with thirty-five years of experience.
Recognized as a trade policy expert, Mr. George has worked in numerous economic posts at Global Affairs Canada, including the Commercial Policy Division, the GATT Division, and the US Trade and Economic Policy Division. He served as Senior Departmental Advisor to Canada’s Minister of International Trade as well as Director of the Softwood Lumber Division, the Intellectual Property Trade Policy Division, and the Tariffs and Goods Market Access Division.
Abroad, Mr. George served as Canada’s Ambassador to Kuwait. He directed trade policy issues at the Canadian Mission to the European Union in Brussels and served as lead negotiator at the Canadian mission to the GATT/World Trade Organisation in Geneva. He also served in Kingston, Jamaica.
He has a Bachelor of Science Degree (Zoology) from the University of Toronto and his Masters of Business Administration from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Jeffrey is a Mexican businessman and statesman. A native of Nuevo Casas Grandes, he grew up in a large agribusiness family in Northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico. After graduating with a degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University (Utah) in 1982, he returned to Mexico as an entrepreneur during the hyperinflationary eighties and, during his business career, became frustrated with the government’s monetary policies. This led to a twelve-year stint in politics. At the federal level, he has served as Congressman (1997- 2000), Senator (2000-2006), and Undersecretary of Agribusiness Development (2006-2009).
With this experience he is very well connected in government circles. Mr. Jones’s focus at the Secretariat of Agriculture was centered on prospective planning, market development, and finance. He is a defender of open markets in their crucial role in the development of any nation.
Not only fluent in English and Spanish, but also bicultural, he feels very comfortable on either side of the border, and has been a long-standing promoter of greater integration in North and Central America. He believes the region has complementary resources that must work together so as to project and maintain into the foreseeable future, the most competitive and prosperous region in the world. He is currently back in the private sector, where he is a consultant and Executive Advisor for Public Affairs for Enerlogix Solutions.
Matthew Rooney joined the Bush Institute in June 2015 following a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State. At postings in Washington and abroad, he focused on advocating market-driven solutions to economic policy challenges in both industrialized and developing countries, and on protecting the interests of US companies abroad.
In Washington, Rooney was on loan to the US Chamber of Commerce to create a high-level private sector advisory body for the Summits of the Americas, working closely with the US private sector and with companies and business associations from throughout the Americas to negotiate an agenda to promote economic integration in the region. Previously, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for relations with Canada and Mexico and for regional economic policy. In prior Washington assignments, Rooney worked for then-Senator Fred Thompson and supported negotiations to open global markets to US airline services.
Abroad, Rooney was Consul General in Munich, a Consulate General providing a full range of Consular and export promotion services, supporting a permanent presence of 30,000 US forces in two major base complexes and carrying out a media and public relations initiative in support of US diplomatic objectives in Germany. As Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the US Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, he laid the groundwork for free trade negotiations between the United States and the five countries of Central America and promoted market-based reforms for electrical power. Prior to this, he served in various posts in Germany, Gabon, and Côte d’Ivoire.
Rooney studied Economics, German, and French at the University of Texas at Austin and received his Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.