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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU, UNM to collaborate on NAFTA studies

New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico will collaborate during the coming year on research dealing with the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Jose Z. Garcia, director of NMSU's Center for Latin American Studies, said NMSU will focus primarily on NAFTA's impact on the U.S.-Mexico border region while UNM will look at the broader context of the trade agreement. Results of the studies will be discussed at a conference to be scheduled in November 2000.

The joint initiative was announced as the two universities celebrated the 20th anniversary of the New Mexico Consortium on Latin America, a partnership of the NMSU Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII).

Theo R. Crevenna, deputy director of the LAII, said the two centers will study not only the economic effects of NAFTA but also the institutional, social and cultural changes that have resulted from the trade agreement.

As part of the initiative, the two universities will sponsor exchange visits by faculty members and speakers from the two campuses and elsewhere, support field trips to Mexico to gather material on the impact of NAFTA, and promote collaborations between faculty members of the two universities, Garcia said.

The initiative will pool the research strengths of the Latin American centers on the two campuses, he said.

"NMSU specializes more strategically on U.S.-Mexico border issues and UNM has comprehensive coverage of all of Latin America," Garcia said. "UNM is the senior partner in this consortium, and it has been a very fruitful and productive relationship for 20 years now."

The NAFTA initiative is the latest of many collaborative activities of the New Mexico Consortium on Latin America, which was formed in 1979 when NMSU's center was established.

The oldest Latin American studies consortium in the nation, it has been funded continuously by the U.S. Department of Education, with additional support from other public and private sources. The two centers have shared about $4 million in grants since 1979.

"Our universities have different strengths that are complementary and we have benefited enormously from this collaboration," UNM President William Gordon said. "This program is a model for greater cooperation in the future."

In keeping with its primary focus on U.S.-Mexico border issues, "one of the things our center is trying to do now is team up with institutions in Ciudad Juarez to stimulate research on issues like water resources," Garcia said. "Most of the research now is funded for one side of the border or the other. Almost all the studies you see are focused on Texas or New Mexico or Mexico, but ultimately water issues are going to have to be solved at the regional level."

Another project of the CLAS is Frontera NorteSur, an on-line news digest of border-area news with daily updates. Frontera NorteSur can be found on NMSU's World Wide Web site at http://www.nmsu.edu/~frontera/.