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Border Maquila Ownership and Mexican Economic Benefits: A Comparative Analysis of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ellwyn R. Stoddard


Canada, Mexico and the United States are developing a new doctrine of regional economic cooperation as a strategy to meet competition from Pacific Rim exporting nations and the European Common Market. Federal officials from the three North American nations employ a policy of national self-interest as they open their common borders to less restrictive trade. Meanwhile, local border entities try to protect existing transborder networks which may help them to survive within this new reality (Stoddard 1982 and 1991a). The resolution of the incongruencies can be both frightening and painful if exacerbated by misinformation about border activities and conditions.

This article will examine six case studies of maquila operations in northern Mexico with varying ownership arrangements: American, Japanese, Mexican National and Mexican worker-owner cooperatives. Conceptually, the issue of how foreign or domestic maquiladora owners contribute to the public good cannot be measured accurately without some differentiation of the various social levels at which said contributions are made. This study will focus on three: the nation, the local community housing the plants and the plant workers themselves. It is hoped that more precise data will eventually form policies to curtail the activities of those enterprises which detract from Mexican society and to encourage those which provide the greatest benefits.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229