Ambassador Carla Hills, US Trade Representative for President George H.W. Bush and chief NAFTA negotiator
Michael K. Young, President, Texas A&M University
Alejandrina Salcedo Cisneros, Director of Economic Measurement, Banco de Mexico
Jesus Cañas, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Raymond Robertson, Professor, Bush School of Government and Public Service (moderator)
On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs in collaboration with the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy, welcomed Ambassador Carla A. Hills to share her insights on the North American Free Trade Agreement’s strengths, weaknesses, and ways forward in the modern economy. Ambassador Hills served as United States Trade Representative from 1989 to 1993 as a member of George H. W. Bush’s cabinet, negotiating and concluding the North American Free Trade Agreement. The program began with a welcome from Professor Andrew Natsios, Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, who remarked on the importance of trade and acknowledged tensions about trade in the current administration. Professor Natsios then presented two brief videos to frame the evening’s discussion of NAFTA’s past, present, and future. The first showed President George H. W. Bush in 1998 supporting the benefits of free trade; the second was a recording of President Donald Trump criticizing the trade agreement at a 2017 rally in Arizona.
After the videos, Professor Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute, took the stage to introduce Carla A. Hills with a description of her background and illustrious career in trade negotiation, after which Ambassador Hills took her place behind the podium. Hills’ talk began with an overview of the benefits that emerged from free trade among Canada, Mexico, and the United States since NAFTA’s initial implementation, including the creation of a multi-trillion dollar trade market with positive effects on consumers, businesses, and national security in all three countries. Hills also explored possibilities for improvements to the agreement, particularly updated provisions to reflect modern developments in digital information technology, ecommerce, and energy. Closing with a call to action, Hills encouraged the audience to share with others the benefits of free trade, in an attempt to correct what she identified as misinformed criticism of NAFTA. A copy of her remarks can be found at https://bush.tamu.edu/scowcroft/papers/nafta/.
The second segment of the program began with Dr. Taylor inviting other trade specialists to the stage for a panel discussion moderated by Bush School professor Dr. Raymond Robertson. Dr. Taylor introduced the panelists as they took their seats onstage with Ambassador Hills and Dr. Robertson: Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University; Alejandrina Salcedo Cisneros, Director of Economic Measurement, Banco de Mexico; and Jesus Cañas, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Dr. Robertson led the conversation among the four guests, moving from President Young’s own recollections of NAFTA negotiations to Dr. Cisneros’ perspective on how NAFTA has strengthened both the United States and Mexico as production partners, not only trade partners. Mr. Cañas gave his perspective on the effects of NAFTA on the Texas economy in particular, including job production and trade for the state. Ambassador Hills contributed to the conversation as well, reiterating remarks from her presentation that emphasized NAFTA’s role in creating work for all North Americans. The four guests agreed that NAFTA was important for the three countries involved and shared their hope that the United States not only would continue to support the agreement but also would contribute to updating the agreement to account for new economic realities. As the evening came to a close, Dr. Taylor approached the podium for a final time to thank the panel participants for their contributions to a fruitful and engaging discussion and the members of the audience for their attendance.
Ambassador Carla Hills and President Michael Young
Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute; Raymond Robertson; Alejandrina Salcedo Cisneros; Michael K. Young; Jesus Cañas; Andrew Natsios, Director of the Scowcroft Institute; and Mark Welsh, Dean of the Bush School
Panelists: Alejandrina Salcedo Cisneros, Jesus Cañas, Raymond Robertson, Michael K. Young, and Ambassador Carla Hills
Ambassador Carla A. Hills served as United States Trade Representative from 1989 to 1993. As a member of President George H.W. Bush’s Cabinet, Carla was the President’s principal advisor on international trade policy. She was also the nation’s chief trade negotiator, representing American interests in multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations throughout the world. Carla negotiated and concluded the North American Free Trade Agreement and also led the US negotiations on the Uruguay Round of the World Trade Organization. During her tenure, the United States entered into a large number of trade and investment agreements with countries around the world.
Earlier, Ambassador Hills served as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (the third woman to hold a Cabinet position). She also served as the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Before entering government, Amb. Hills co-founded and was partner in what is now the Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP law firm. She also served as an adjunct professor at the University of California at Los Angeles Law School teaching antitrust law, and co-authored the Antitrust Adviser, which was published by McGraw-Hill. Ambassador Hills’ prior expertise in antitrust and federal civil matters informs her understanding of business.
Over the years, she has served on a number of corporate boards, including AIG, American Airlines, AT&T, Chevron, Corning Glass Works, Gilead Sciences, IBM, Time Warner, Trust Company of the West, and United Airlines, and currently is on the international advisory board of J.P. Morgan Chase. She also serves in leadership positions with not-for-profit organizations, including Chair of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; Co-Chair of the Inter-American Dialogue, and of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Honorary Director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Executive Committee member of the Trilateral Commission. She is Co-Chair Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ambassador Hills graduated from Stanford University, attended Oxford University’s St. Hilda’s College, and obtained her law degree from the Yale Law School. She holds honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities. In 2000, she was awarded the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor given by the Mexican government to a non-citizen.
She resides in Washington, DC.
Michael K. Young became the 25th President of Texas A&M University on May 1, 2015, bringing a proven track record of academic leadership.
As president and tenured Professor of Law at the University of Washington from 2011 to 2015, he led the nation’s top public university in competing for federal research funding, as well as its ambitious plan to double the number of new companies based on UW research. He also launched the Global Innovation Exchange, a partnership in the State of Washington between the University of Washington, a major Chinese university and European universities. The University also more than doubled its fundraising during his tenure. Prior to that, he served as President and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Utah. Under President Young’s leadership, Utah raised its stature nationally and internationally, including becoming the nation’s top university in the number of new companies generated from university research. The University also built over a million square feet of academic and research space under President Young’s leadership.
Before assuming the presidency at Utah, he was Dean and Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School, and he was a professor at Columbia University for more than 20 years. He also has been a visiting professor and scholar at three universities in Japan.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, President Young has broad experience across legal, public service, and diplomatic arenas. He served as a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has held a number of government positions, including Deputy Under Secretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, and Ambassador for Trade and Environmental Affairs in the Department of State during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Among many other international agreements, President Young worked extensively on the treaties related to German unification, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Uruguay Round negotiations leading to the World Trade Organization, and the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development.
Subsequently, President Young served eight years on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which he chaired on two separate occasions.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Alejandrina Salcedo is Director of Economic Measurement at Banco de Mexico. Prior to her current position, she worked as Manager of the Real Sector Research Division and as a researcher at the Mexican Central Bank and as a World Bank summer consultant. Her research has focused on development topics including migration and education. Some of her studies have been published in relevant academic journals. She holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Stanford University, and she completed, with honors, her undergraduate studies at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM) in Mexico City.
Jesus Cañas is a senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas analyzing regional economic growth. He has written articles for academic journals such as Annals of Regional Science and Growth and Change and co-edited Ten Gallon Economy: Sizing up Economic Growth in Texas. His research also focuses on issues pertaining to the Mexican economy, the U.S.–Mexico border economy and cross-border manufacturing. His publication Texas Border Cities Illustrate Benefits and Challenges of Trade has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal as well as in all major Texas newspapers.
Cañas is member of the Mission Foods Texas-México Center Faculty Advisory Board at Southern Methodist University (SMU) charged with the task of improving the Texas-Mexico relationship in its economic, political, social, and cultural aspects. He is also an adjunct professor at SMU. Cañas holds a BA in economics and finance and an MS in economics from the University of Texas at El Paso.