“Texas needs to take the lead on NAFTA 2.0”

Photo: The Dallas Morning News

Texas Representative Will Hurd said Texas should take the lead on the renegotiation of NAFTA at a panel discussion at the Bush Center June 19. The Tower Center cosponsored the panel along with the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center.

The 23-year-old agreement has been in the news since Donald Trump called it the worst trade deal in history during his presidential campaign.

“Workers are lacking the skills — we are doing everything we can to get to connect workers to career paths in trade and logistics,” said NASCO President Tiffany Melvin. While the panel agreed the trade agreement isn’t perfect, they each argued for the importance of strengthening the deal going forward.

Read Jill Cowan’s story on the panel here and the Bush Center’s paper on NAFTA negotiations here.

Para leer en español sobre el panel, haga clic aquí.

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Consul General, TC Director discuss NAFTA, protectionism in DMN

Dallas and Fort Worth Mayors returned from a trip to Toronto feeling both hope and anxiety over NAFTA, the Dallas Morning News reported.

DMN reporter Tristan Allman talked to Sara Wilshaw, Consul General of Canada in Dallas, about her thoughts on the Trump administration’s policies. Wilshaw underscored the importance of the trade relationship, saying she believes it should not only be maintained but strengthened as well.

Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield told Allman the problem for trade is at the national level.

“At least at the local level, in these regions like Dallas-Fort Worth, the mayors have no doubt how important this is for the economic growth of the city and the region,” he said.

Read Allman’s story here.

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Luisa del Rosal named finalist for D CEO Latino Business Award

Tower Center and Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Executive Director Luisa del Rosal was named a finalist for D CEO’s Latino Business Awards 2017.

“I am so proud and humbled to be a part of this group that D Magazine is honoring,” del Rosal said. “It is so important to acknowledge Hispanic leadership as I feel we are an integral part of the community, and like all leaders, strive to enrich the lives of everyone.”

The awards are intended to honor Latino leaders in North Texas. Winners will be announced in August, and each finalist will be recognized in D CEO’s September issue.

For a full list of finalists, click here.

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Is Russia getting cozy with North Korea?

Tower Chair and National Security expert Joshua Rovner talked to CBS’s Roshini Rajkumar about North Korea and its relationships with China, Russia and the U.S.

Rovner said the Trump administration is trying to isolate North Korea like the administrations before. Moscow, however, sees an opportunity in reaching out to North Korea to put pressure on the U.S. to remove sanctions.

“The United States can’t do this alone. It needs to convince others to put pressure on North Korea as well,” Rovner said.

Listen to the interview (starting at 19:26) here.

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Luisa del Rosal advises forum at SMU to promote gender equality

SMU is hosting the third annual Women’s Ambassador Forum (WAF) June 6-9, which is bringing in 25 young women from 18 different countries to attend seminars and learn how to become leaders and promote gender equality in their home countries.

Tower Center Executive Director Luisa del Rosal has advised the student planning committee, co-chaired by SMU students Gloria Gutierrez and Mirka Serrato, to make the forum possible.

Read the Dallas Morning News’ story here.

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Tower Center experts weigh in on U.S. leaving the Paris climate accord

Photo: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield and Tower Center Associate Bud Weinstein, also associate director of the SMU Maguire Energy Institute, talked to Dallas Morning News reporter Jill Cowan about President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Hollifield argues that this is yet another example of Trump disregarding how things are done in foreign policy, or in his words, Trump threw the global playbook “out the window.”

“Gone are the days when the U.S. would take the lead in pursuing global public goods,” he told Cowan.

Aside from the geopolitical effects of withdrawing from the deal, which is supported by nearly 200 countries and ratified by 144, Weinstein weighed in on the effects on the energy industry in Texas. He thinks they will be minimal. The decline in coal energy is hardly related to the United States’ commitment to a climate deal, he said.

“I look at it this way: Carbon emissions have been falling in the U.S. for the last 20 years, not so much because of regulations at the state and federal level but because we’ve been substituting coal power,” Weinstein said.

Read the full article here.

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TC Director and Associate: Climate Change has displaced millions

President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement that the Obama administration ratified. As of May 2017, 144 countries had ratified the agreement and 195 countries had signed it.

After the agreement was negotiated, Tower Center Academic Director Jim Hollifield and Tower Center Associate Idean Salehyan wrote an article for the Wilson Center on an unspoken consequence of climate change: the displacement of millions of people.

Read what our experts had to say here.

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Navigating Democracy in Tunisia

Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a government building in Tunisia Dec. 17, 2010. Following his death in early 2011, protests and riots erupted throughout the country, unseating President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of rule Jan. 14. Tunisia has been working to establish a democracy since then, and made significant progress in 2014 by establishing a new constitution and holding elections for parliament and a new president.

Tunisia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Faycal Gouia visited the Tower Center to give the seminar “Navigating Democracy and Open for Business” May 18.

Tunisia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Faycal Gouia visited the Tower Center May 18 to discuss Tunisia’s progress and the country’s goals and ideas for the future during the seminar “Navigating Democracy and Open for Business.”

Gouia is most proud of Tunisia’s public education program. The government offers free education from kindergarten through university and PhD programs to students who can pass a series of tests. Gouia says this is an effort of the to have a fully educated population. But even with an educated public, the small North African country is struggling with high levels of unemployment. The World Bank reports Tunisia’s unemployment to be 15.2 percent, with unemployment for graduates at 19.9 percent. Gouia tags this as the number one social problem the country faces. The government’s goal is to reduce the rate to 12 percent by 2020.

This issue has been compounded by an economy in turmoil. Tunisia’s economy has suffered greatly from the threat and presence of terrorism — especially with Libya as its neighbor. However, Gouia is optimistic that this is changing for the country. It has been 15 months since the last attack, tourism and Foreign Direct Investment are both on the rise, and the military has transitioned from defensive to offensive operations to eliminate the terrorist threat.

In response to a question about Tunisia’s violence-ridden neighbor, he offered insight into Libya’s situation and why establishing a democracy seems to be an impossible mission for them.

The unrest in Libya, according to Gouia, is easier to solve than the unrest in other Arab countries such as Yemen and Syria because its population is homogeneous and tribal. The main problem, however, is that there were no established institutions (such as a military or police force) when Muammar Gaddafi was killed in 2011, unlike the well established institutions Ben Ali left behind in Tunisia. Although Libya is a rich country in terms of resources, it has the largest oil reserves in Africa, Gouia said it has been plagued by the “worst leadership” in the Arab world.

Here is Ambassador Gouia’s four-step solution to Libya:

  1. Reduce the number of weapons circulating in Libya, estimated to be around 30 million.
  2. Develop an army
  3. Open up a national dialogue to get the leaders of the different tribal leaders together around a table. The U.S. and UN should facilitate this.
  4. Establish a roadmap for reconciliation. “They’re navigating without a compass,” Gouia said.

The ambassador left the discussion on a brighter note saying talks with the Trump administration have gone well, and that foreign aid has been granted to Tunisia for 2017. But with talks of budget cuts circulating Washington, he said the world is uncertain what 2018 will hold.

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Tower Scholar Awarded Medders Undergraduate Fellowship

HCM Tower Scholar Ben Prengler ’19 was awarded the Tower Center Tom Bryant Medders, Jr. Fellowship for 2017-2019.

Prengler, a pre-law student from Fairview, Texas, plans to use the fellowship for research comparing constitutional design in the United States and Canada.  He wants to understand how Canadian multiculturalism and American Liberal-Republicanism impacts each country’s institutions.


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“Can America still be trusted with classified information?”

Tower Chair and national security expert Josh Rovner weighed in on the possible consequences of President Trump sharing classified intelligence with Russian officials.

The original source of the information that Trump leaked was reported to be Israel, viewed as one of the United States’ most important allies.

This Quartz article explores the possible fallout after the information was divulged (to an adversary nation) without the source ally’s permission. Rovner argues Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu might forgive the U.S., since what he really wants is “real support from the U.S.”

However, the consequences could still be great. He told the Christian Science Monitor: “This whole episode is terrible for trust – and trust is what makes intelligence sharing work.”

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