Trade with Canada and Mexico is a significant driver of U.S. economic growth, and with a two-decade record to examine, it’s plain to see that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has generated substantial new opportunities for U.S. workers, farmers, consumers, and businesses.
More than 125,000 small and medium-size businesses export to our two North American neighbors, and they are our largest export markets by far. Most important, trade with Canada and Mexico supports 14 million American jobs.
NAFTA is the foundation of this prosperous relationship, and as our nation engages in a debate over its future, we must start by acknowledging the value of the deal to our economic well-being.
The business community welcomes the opportunity to update the agreement, and as NAFTA negotiations are underway, the U.S. Chamber understands that now is the time to modernize NAFTA.
NAFTA Works for US
Myths and Facts about NAFTA
Myth: NAFTA sent U.S. factory jobs abroad with a “giant sucking sound.”
Fact: It never happened.
U.S. manufacturers added more than 800,000 jobs in the four years after NAFTA entered into force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This boom in factory jobs came after a period before NAFTA entered into force (1980–1993) when the United States lost nearly 2 million manufacturing jobs. Canada and Mexico are the top two destinations for U.S. manufactured goods exports, which all told support more than half of America’s 12.3 million factory jobs.
Myth: NAFTA added to the U.S. trade deficit.
Fact: With regard to Canada and Mexico, the United States ran a cumulative trade surplus in manufactured goods of more than $79 billion over the past seven years (2008-2014).
For services, the U.S. surplus was $41.8 billion in 2014 alone. The fact that substantial U.S. petroleum imports from Canada and Mexico contribute to the overall U.S. trade deficit stems from geology—not NAFTA.
Myth: NAFTA has contributed to unemployment.
Fact: The U.S. unemployment rate was markedly lower in the years immediately after NAFTA came into force (it averaged 5.1% in 1994–2007) than in the period immediately before (it averaged 7.1% in 1982–1993).
Trade with Canada and Mexico supports nearly 14 million U.S. jobs, and nearly 5 million of these jobs are supported by the increase in trade generated by NAFTA, according to a comprehensive economic study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber.
International trade means more than just agreements and words. Trade is the backbone of American enterprise. That’s why we are traveling to seven states over the next three days, from North Dakota to Kansas, to talk trade with local chambers of commerce, civic and community leaders, businesses, and exporters.
North America is having a political moment. Parties are not just polarized, but at times seem worlds apart. How leaders in North America react to the current paradigm will shape the future of the region for years. The decisions we make on the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) today will have ramifications for decades to come.
[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “Modernizing NAFTA,” which examines the importance of modernizing the N
Nearly two decades ago, Drew Greenblatt purchased a small manufacturing business in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, he has nearly doubled the number of employees at Marlin Steel Wire Products. Over that same period, he doubled the firm’s sales. Then he doubled that. Then he doubled it again.
[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “Modernizing NAFTA,” which examines the importance of modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and it's critical impact on jobs, economic prosperity, and trade. Stay tuned as negociations unfold.]