While both Democratic presidential candidates have taken aim at the Nafta in recent debates, Mexico’s new consul general in Atlanta praised the trade agreement as a job generator for all the countries involved.

Particularly in the battleground state of Ohio, the candidates played on fears that unchecked trade liberalization among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will result in a net loss of more American manufacturing jobs.

Salvador de Lara, who said he will use his economic background to build on the business successes of former Consul General Remedios Gomez Arnau, said such sentiment is unfounded.

“When you see that the exports from the United States to Mexico have grown three times, that means three times more employments have been created in the United States,” Mr. de Lara told GlobalAtlanta.

The American manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico are often low-technology operations that, when weeded out, increase America’s competitiveness in the global economy, he said.

He also noted that total bilateral trade between the Mexico and the U.S. has grown from $80 billion to $350 billion from 1993 to 2007. Nafta was passed in 1993 and implemented Jan. 1, 2004.

Mr. de Lara became Mexico’s consul general in Atlanta effective Feb. 1, moving from a post as director of regional and multilateral organisms in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He set forth his agenda for the consulate in a March 6 press conference that also served to present him to the community.

His speech, which was well attended by numerous Mexican media outlets with stations in Atlanta, touched on many hot-button political issues.

While he acknowledged that an influx of undocumented Mexican workers poses problems for Georgia, he said the consulate must make sure that the human rights of those workers are protected.

The consulate also must work to help legal Mexican workers access better economic opportunities and to improve perceptions of Mexicans in America.

Mr. de Lara has a well of experience in economic affairs. His diverse resume includes a five-year stint in the 1990s as the minister of economic affairs in the Mexican Embassy in Washington as well as a short term as a consultant to the World Bank. This is his first posting as a consul general.

Watch Mr. de Lara speak candidly about Nafta in the GlobalAtlanta video interview above.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...