|by James L.
[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in
On the Horizon, 1992, 1(2), 9. It is posted here with permission
from Jossey Bass
The Asia-Pacific region has the fastest growth rate of any region, and this
growth is likely to continue into the next century. Japan emerged as the world'
s economic powerhouse during the 1980s and is the economic giant of this region.
Japan is expected to show more real economic growth over the next 10 years than
the U.S.; its continuing foreign-trade surplus will drive additional global
investment during the 1990s. The Japanese economy is adjusting to new pressures,
however. Savings are declining. Japan's trade surplus with the U.S. fell in
1989. Chronic labor shortages are affecting the Japanese economy. [What lies
ahead: A decade of decision. (1992). Alexandria, Virginia: United Way
Strategic Institute, P-39.].
Free-trade agreements can provide solid economic benefits to the U.S. In
1990, two-way trade with Mexico approached $60 billion, up $8 billion over the
previous year and double the 1984 total. Free trade negotiations can address the
important Mexican barriers that remain, including numerous auto trade
restrictions and import licenses on many agricultural goods. A free-trade
agreement also can help us to compete globally in the 21st century. The EC is
creating a trading bloc with a population of 325 million and an economy of
almost $5 trillion, and Japan is strengthening its trade ties with its Pacific
Rim neighbors. The result is greater European and Asian export competitiveness.
Free trade with Mexico and Canada can help us face that competition. [Bentsen,
L. ( 1991, March 29). Pluses, minuses of free trade with Mexico. The
Christian Science Monitor, p. 19.]
If the U.S. teams up with Canada and Mexico in a free- trade agreement, as it
is expected to do, this North American bloc could easily dominate the world
economy. Together, the three countries have a population of 350 million and a $6
trillion GNP, surpassing the European Community. [What lies ahead: A decade
of decision. (1992). Alexandria, Virginia United Way Strategic Institute,
The North American free-trade agreement will have a significant impact on
American society. Corporations, governmental agencies, and colleges and
universities will increasingly focus on Canada and Mexico. Executives, workers,
students, and professors must work closely with culturally divergent groups to
establish plans that are to the mutual benefit of all parties involved. Colleges
and universities thus have more incentive to integrate the curriculum with a
multicultural/global perspective to prepare students to function more
effectively with individuals with different backgrounds. An increasing number of
institutions will require a foreign language for graduation. Too, the number of
academic exchange programs will sharply increase.