`The Moment Of Truth' For Mexico

Americans may be anxious over the impending North American Free Trade Agreement, but the suspense is killing the Mexicans. Economic growth has stalled, job losses are mounting, and a credit crunch is pinching consumers and business. Just look at autos: In April, car sales dropped for the first time since 1987. Auto makers are grimly predicting that sales may fall as much as 10% this year, a far cry from the 23% average growth over the past six years. Says Fausto Cuevas, director of the Mexican Automotive Industry Assn.: "This is going to be a very difficult year."

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