NAFTA at 10: Myth - NAFTA Was a Failure for the United States

· NAFTA has been a huge success for
the U.S. and its NAFTA partners. It has helped Americans work smarter, earn more and increase purchasing power.
It has contributed to more trade, higher productivity, better jobs, and higher

· In ten years of NAFTA, total
trade among the three countries has more than doubled, from $306 billion to $621 billion in 2003. That’s $1.7 billion in
trade every day.

· U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico
grew from $142 billion to $263 billion in NAFTA’s first ten years. And Mexican exports to the U.S. grew 242 percent,
improving lives and reducing poverty in Mexico.

· Some claimed NAFTA would
contribute to U.S. industrial decline and a “giant sucking sound.” But after NAFTA was passed in 1993:

o U.S. manufacturing output soared
in the 1990s, up 44% in real terms.

o U.S. employment grew over 20
million between 1993 and 2000.

o U.S. manufacturing wages
increased dramatically, with real hourly compensation up by 14.4% in the 10 years since NAFTA, more than double the 6.5%
increase in the 10 years preceding NAFTA.

o Income gains and tax cuts from
NAFTA were worth up to $930 each year for the average U.S. household of four.

· More recent problems for
manufacturers and their employees came long after NAFTA. These problems are due to a recent recession from which the U.S.
is now recovering strongly. Much is blamed on imports, but in fact 80% of the
increase in the U.S. manufactures trade deficit in the last three years is attributable
to reduced exports and weak demand overseas, not increased imports.

· Some blame NAFTA for recent
economic problems. But in fact, during the recent U.S. economic downturn, U.S. imports from Mexico were up less than 2
percent (last three years). By contrast, the U.S. economy added more than 20 million
jobs during a time when imports from Mexico were booming in 1993-2000 (up 241

· Clearly U.S. employment trends
reflect the health of the U.S. economy far more than the negotiation of trade agreements like NAFTA.