NAFTA Destroyed Employment and Shifted Production

If an enemy was devising a plan to destroy America the product of their scheming could very easily be exact replicas of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

NAFTA was created in 1994 under the guise of “free trade,” an agreement whose purpose was to remove trade barriers between Mexico, Canada and the United States. The result was nothing short of a disaster for both the United States and Mexico.

NAFTA opened up Mexico’s borders to U.S. businesses. What used to be an $18 per hour manufacturing job in America became a $3 per hour job in Mexico. No manufacturer wishing to remain competitive in America could possibly pay $18-20 per hour here when the same product can be produced right across the border in Mexico for just $3 per hour and then shipped back to the U.S. free of charge.

America’s current problem with immigration is a direct byproduct of NAFTA. The amount of immigrants entering the U.S. illegally has more than tripled since 1993, rising from less than four million to over 12 million. Furthermore, since the implementation of NAFTA 300,000 farms have gone out of business and average wages have dropped 13 percent.

Before NAFTA was signed the United States actually traded at a surplus with Mexico. By 2007, a year before the financial collapse, that balance had more than reversed, it had completely imploded. A mere 14 years after signing NAFTA, a small surplus turned into a $91 billion deficit. Factor in Canada and our deficit sat at $191 billion.

For now, not much has changed. Our deficit with Canada and Mexico is already at $56.3 billion. Fortunately, more and more Americans are beginning to take notice.

“Most young workers today wonder where the jobs went. Well, they went to NAFTA and continue to be sent overseas. The latest casualty is a G.E. light bulb factory boxing up and going to China. I think Thomas Alva Edison would roll over in his grave if he knew,” Mr. and Mrs. George E. Hills of Newark recently wrote in to the Newark Advocate op-ed section.

The American people need to continue putting pressure on politicians and informing their fellow citizens through op-eds in their local newspapers. We can undo the damage of almost two decades of horrendous trade policy, but we must be forceful and swift. We barely dug ourselves out of the worst recession in generations. Furthermore, the empirical data fails to highlight the dismal state our economy is still in. We stand on the brink and the tiniest push could send us right back over the edge, which is why we must remain active, we must continue to put pressure on our representatives and we must seek not only viable solutions, but the true sources of the problem. If we do not learn from our mistakes they will bury us in the future.

“I can’t help but notice during the past few years not one politician, Republican or Democrat, ever has mentioned all the jobs we lost because of NAFTA and other treaties is the real cause of our job situation,” Ralph Nethers of St. Louisville, OH wrote in the Newark Advocate. “We never will be the great country we were until they cut out or at least cut back on all these imports. They all sold us out on these agreements. President Clinton and many others said we would not lose jobs, but we sure have. Jobs with great pay and benefits went south of the border or overseas. They are tearing down old factories and selling off all the machinery that was used.”

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