Mexico US border sign Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images

The Truth About NAFTA

As US President Donald Trump considers bids for building a “beautiful wall” to control immigration on the US-Mexico border, his administration is also poised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. As US officials move forward, they would do well to recognize some basic facts.

BERKELEY – As US President Donald Trump receives bids to build his supposed “beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico, his administration is also poised to build some figurative walls with America’s southern neighbor, by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Before US officials move forward, they would do well to recognize some basic facts.

Trump has called NAFTA the “single worst trade deal” ever approved by the United States, claiming that it has led to “terrible losses” of manufacturing production and jobs. But none of this is supported by the evidence. Even NAFTA skeptics have concluded that its negative effects on net US manufacturing employment have been small to non-existent.

Trump may prefer not to focus on facts, but it is useful to begin with a few. Bilateral trade between the US and Mexico amounts to over $500 billion per year. The US is by far Mexico’s largest trading partner in merchandise – about 80% of its goods exports go to the US – while Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China).

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