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The U.S.-Mexico border town of Nogales, Ariz., used to be a major tourist destination for northern Mexican consumers seeking American-made clothing and appliances until NAFTA changed everything. The town's major department stores, which also attracted U.S. tourists on their way south of the border, have given way to less tourist-friendly warehouses dotting the town's downtown.
NAFTA's reduction of tariffs made it easier for Mexicans to procure what they'd normally buy across the border, running major retailers out of town to be replaced by smaller boutiques serving the locals. Medical and other tourists on their way to Mexico from Tucson and Phoenix would take shopping pit stops in Nogales as they rested up for the long trip further south.
Years after NAFTA was ratified, more than $18 billion a year worth of trade comes through the town's ports of entry with visibly mixed benefits.
Observed Nils Urman, who helped found the Nogales Economic Development Initiative, to the Los Angeles Times: "Our whole economy changed. Now our challenge is how to take advantage of our location and find a new purpose."
Read all about it: http://lat.ms/LPxyG7.