Why NAFTA Does Not Present a Net Gain for the U.S

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 19, 1999 | Go to article overview

Why NAFTA Does Not Present a Net Gain for the U.S


Deroy Murdock's Jan. 14 article, "Weighing the NAFTA tide's losses . . . and gains," was an exercise in disinformation in support of an airy proposal for unilateral U.S. trade concessions to benefit foreign and transnational corporations without regard for the impact on the American economy. Not even Adam Smith went this far, arguing in "The Wealth of Nations" that only if confronted by British trade barriers could foreign states be persuaded to negotiate reciprocal agreements that would benefit England. A century later, when England tried unilateral "free trade," foreign states (including the United States) exploited the open imperial market while using protection to build up their own industries. England soon lost its economic superiority.

When Mr. Murdock talks of total U.S.-Mexican trade rather than imports and exports, he hides the most vital data. The United States had a $1.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico in 1993, down from $5.7 billion the year before. When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was approved by Congress that year, its proponents claimed it would reverse the trend. It didn't. Between 1992 and 1997, Mexico increased its exports to the United States by 144 percent, running up $50 billion in surpluses during the three years 1995 through 1997. The 1998 deficit will be about $16 billion. This money has been used to attract foreign investors rather than reduce international debt and to pay for imports from Europe, where Mexico still runs a trade deficit. …

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