Leodegarco Ramírez Ramírez smiles as he stands in a spot symbolizing the rise of a new Mexico, an area of cornfields that are slowly being replaced by manufacturing plants where his sons and nephews make airplanes and automobiles.

Ramirez and his countrymen are part of a transformation as Mexico moves from a commodity, crisis-prone, agriculture-dominated economy to a more broad-based one with manufacturing plants that produce everything from aerospace and auto parts to refrigerators.

“I tell my sons things are looking up for Mexico,” he said. “We’ll go to the United States more out of curiosity than necessity.”

There is debate over how much of the change is due to the North American Free Trade Agreement. This week marks the 20th anniversary since the accord took effect for the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“Mexico has a world-class manufacturing sector, and NAFTA has certainly helped bring this industry up to the highest global standards,” said Pia Orrenius, an economist and migration specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “Would this have happened without NAFTA? Maybe, but it probably would have taken longer. … Overall, I think Mexicans see a brighter future for their nation than they did 20 years ago.”

via 20 years after NAFTA, Mexico has transformed | Dallas Morning News.