The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It was entered into force on January 1, 1994 after being negotiated and agreed upon based on the economic benefits promised by supporters to the three nations involved. For starters, there was supposed to be increases in trade, foreign investment and exports. Incomes and standards of living were supposed to improve. NAFTA was also implemented with the goal of reducing migration, creating better jobs, and reducing prices for goods.
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Free trade agreements have been detrimental to our economy in the United States. This is partially because when we negotiate a free trade agreement, we don’t just open our borders to domestic manufacturers in one country, but rather that country becomes a portal for other countries to get their goods into the U.S. market.
Our leaders consistently pursue new “free trade” deals despite the fact that our previous deals have been abject failures.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a proven disaster. According to the Economic Policy Institute, over 682,000 jobs have been lost or displaced due to NAFTA. That number should not be surprising. Americans now have to compete with workers who make only a small fraction of what workers in the United States are paid. This has forced us to outsource much of our manufacturing, leaving us unable to produce for ourselves.
As if NAFTA was not damaging enough, our leaders in Washington have stacked even more damaging “free trade” agreements on top of it. The U.S. – Korean free trade agreement was one of the most misguided economic policy ideas in American history, yet Congress passed it and President Obama signed it into law. It was plain to see what a disaster KORUS would be before it was even signed.
Just as predicted, KORUS has produced horrible results for the United States. April 2012 marked the first month the agreement was in effect, and the trade deficit nearly tripled to $1.8 billion, which was also a $700 million increase from April 2011. May saw an additional increase, and in tandem these two months showed a 63 percent increase in our trade deficit over the previous year.
To make matters worse, our exports – which we were told would increase under the deal – actually fell by 12 percent in the first month alone.
This is substantial evidence that our policies are not working, but no one is asking the hard questions. Why are we still pursuing these failed “free trade” policies when we have seen how damaging they are?
Our leaders continue to surrender our sovereignty and undercut our economy through these misguided policies. For instance, KORUS limits our ability to regulate our own banks. Despite this, an even more damaging agreement is waiting in the wings: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Unfortunately we may not know how damaging the TPP is until it is too late. The agreement is being negotiated in secret by lobbyists, likely to the detriment of average Americans. How can we expect a good outcome for the American people when we have lobbyists writing our trade policy?
It is clear that our leaders are not working for us. Instead they are working for the lobbyists and special interests that fund their campaigns. This is not the way America was supposed to work. Our democracy has eroded, leaving us with a plutocracy – a government run by the rich for the rich.
We need to take our country back. Write, call or visit the offices of your elected officials and tell them in no uncertain terms that you want trade policies that work for the American people, not for the special interests.
If you care about access to affordable medicine, public control over natural resources, the sustainability of local farmers, regulating big banks and the rights of workers and indigenous communities, then you should care about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Set to be finalized in on October 2013, TPP is a trade agreement that could negatively impact these issues in the United States