Many existing theories of economic liberalization fail to account for Mexico's experiences. Why has the Mexican government risked alienating its primary constituencies by pursuing trade opening and joining NAFTA? Big Business, the State, and Free Trade develops a general explanation of trade policy coalition politics and uses it to explain the opening of Mexico's economy. It emphasizes the role of business and state actors in constructing competing trade policy coalitions. The book traces the formation and relative strength of a protectionist and a free trade coalition across a series of policy episodes from the 1970s to the 1980s. It pays particular attention to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which consolidated a strong free trade coalition between big business and state elites. The conditions that strengthened the free trade coalition have also contributed to higher levels of political and economic instability since 1994. Coalition politics is likely to become more important as Mexico's political system democratizes.
• A book-length, single-author treatment of Mexican trade liberalization from the 1980s through NAFTA • Adopts an analytical approach that links international financial integration with the politics of trade opening • Develops a general explanation of trade policy coalition politics and applies it to Mexico, the most important case of liberalization for the USA
List of figures; List of tables; List of abbreviations; Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: international context, domestic interests and Mexican trade reform; 2. Coalition politics and free trade; 3. Structural power relations between business and the Mexican state; 4. Trade policy coalitions in the 1980s; 5. Assembling teams and building bridges; 6. Business participation in the NAFTA negotiations; 7. Conclusion: Mexico in comparative perspective; Appendix; References; Index.
'This exhaustively researched account of Mexican trade policy in the 1980s should be required reading for all scholars of Latin American political economy. driving this rich monograph is a nuanced analytical framework combining elements of state, society and internationally focused models of policymaking in developing countries.' Sylvia Maxfield, Harvard University
'Professor Strom Thacker's approach to the influence of Mexican business in the making of the North American Free Trade Agreement is both theoretically innovative and empirically exhaustive. This book sheds new light on the social and political interests, both national and international, underlying the features of free trade between Mexico, the United States and Canada. It is indispensable reading for students and scholars of international political economy.' Francisco Valdés-Ugalde, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
'This book takes a big step beyond one-sided accounts of trade policy, either statist or sectoral, to examine the groups within the state and in big business who allied to push Mexico into NAFTA. Thacker's richly documented study offers a penetrating analysis of Mexican politics in recent decades and contributes important theoretical insights for comparative debates on the crucial nexus between business and government.' Ben Ross Schneider, Northwestern University