NAFTA Marks 20 Years of Dismal Failure

December 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… and a 20-year legacy of failed promises, a growing trade deficit, 682,900 lost jobs and counting.

“Former President Bill Clinton claimed that NAFTA would create an ‘export boom to Mexico’ that would create 200,000 jobs in two years and a million jobs in five years, ‘many more jobs than will be lost’ due to rising imports,” reads an Economic Snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “The economic logic behind his argument was clear: Trade creates new jobs in exporting industries and destroys jobs when imports replace the output of domestic firms.

“Fast forward 20 years and it’s clear that things didn’t work out as Clinton promised.  NAFTA led to a flood of outsourcing and foreign direct investment in Mexico.  U.S. imports from Mexico grew much more rapidly than exports, leading to growing trade deficits. Jobs making cars, electronics, and apparel and other goods moved to Mexico, and job losses piled up in the United States, especially in the Midwest where those products used to be made.”

EPI economists say by 2010, trade deficits with Mexico had eliminated 682,900 good U.S. jobs. More than 60 percent of those jobs were in manufacturing.

“Our nation’s trade policy has failed U.S. workers and workers everywhere,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger during a recent panel discussion on trade at the National Press Club. “The IAM firmly believes in a 21st century trade policy that does not merely pay lip service to jobs when it is politically convenient – but will in fact lead to the creation and maintenance of good jobs across industries, sectors and geographical locations.”