NAFTA Truck Crossings Continue to Increase
Once again, it appears that the recession that began in 2008 masked the scope of our trade problem. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened America’s borders to cheap goods from Mexico, and for many years the amount of commercial traffic flowing across U.S. borders grew as a result. Trade decreased in 2008 and 2009, but since the economy has started to recover the numbers have once again skyrocketed. 2010 showed a large increase in commercial truck crossings between the NAFTA countries, and the recently released 2011 numbers show that the number of crossings has grown even more. More traffic entering the country means more American jobs lost. This is another sign that we need to get out of NAFTA before it is too late to rebuild our struggling economy.
Over 10.3 million trucks entered the United States from NAFTA countries in 2011, and the vast majority of those trucks were full of goods destined for sale in the United States. Over 70 percent of the trucks entering the U.S. were carrying loaded truck trailers. The goods contained in these vehicles are the very reason our economy is suffering. It is cheaper for countries to produce in Mexico and ship their goods here than it is to pay Americans a living wage. While American manufacturing workers may have made $20 an hour or more, Mexico’s depressed economy allows companies to employ workers for $4 an hour. Proponents claim that this saves Americans money on the products they buy. It is true that it may save the average American a tiny amount of money per year, but those savings are not very useful when you lose your job due to unfair competition.
Free trade has been a proven failure for the United States, and NAFTA is a clear embodiment of the theory’s shortcomings. The Mexican market continues to provide little in the way of sales to American companies, while multinationals can exploit Mexico’s problems to produce cheap goods. Passing NAFTA has been a disaster for American manufacturing, and a disaster for American jobs. When the manufacturing sector stumbles the effects inevitably ripple throughout the entire economy.
President Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA when he entered office. So far he has taken no steps to do so, and unfortunately he has passed other NAFTA-like agreements. The American people need to pressure him into keeping his promise. The economy is going to be front-and-center in the upcoming election, and there could be no bigger boost for our economy than getting out of our failed free trade agreements.