Kansas City, MO – This week, international trade leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Kansas City for the annual North America Works conference. Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, some local leaders have been trying to promote Kansas City as a hub for international trade.
NAFTA has its critics from both the left and the right, and the election of Barack Obama may change the direction of the US trade policy.
But advocates for Kansas City's role in the global market say that its strategic location at the intersection of rail and trucking routes is already paying off. KCCurrents' Susan B. Wilson recently spoke to two major proponents of Kansas City's logistics and transportation industry. Al Figuly is president of the Greater Kansas City Foreign Trade Zone, a non-profit which helps establish duty free zones in the area; Chris Gutierrez is President of Smartport, another non-profit which is trying to make it easier for companies to move goods in and out of Kansas City.
Proponents of international trade in Kansas City say that it is good for the Kansas City economy - but not everyone is as enthusiastic. The manufacturing sector of the economy has been declining across the country for the past few decades and some feel that NAFTA is largely responsible. For another take on the prospect of increased free trade and its impact on labor, we spoke with Judy Ancel, director of UMKC's Institute for Labor Studies.