The impact of NAFTA and options for tax reform in Mexico
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had a profound impact on Mexico's economy and institutions. Clearly, no consideration of tax reform can ignore its role. The thinking about tax reform in Mexico requires evaluating NAFTA's effect on Mexico's economy, including its tax structure, and the effects of its tax system on trade and capital flows between Mexico and its NAFTA partners, the United States and Canada. The authors review the evidence on NAFTA's economic effects, focusing on the changes in foreign trade and foreign direct investment flows in Mexico and the effects of these changes on Mexico's tax base and ability to raise tax revenues. Using marginal effective tax rate analysis, the authors also compare Mexico's tax system with those of Canada and the United States in terms of the effect on foreign direct investment. The authors draw two main conclusions from their analysis. First, by fueling Mexico's exports and foreign direct investment inflows, NAFTA has altered the country's economic structure and hence the industrial distribution of the tax base. This transformation calls for adapting the tax structure to an economy oriented toward services and manufacturing exports. And second, Mexico's membership in NAFTA provides no significant reasons for fundamental change in its tax structure. The new wave of tax reform should concentrate on raising revenues, simplifying the tax structure, and increasing the efficiency and overall equity of the tax system.
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