NAFTA Thoughts

While the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is by far no where near perfect I find myself becoming annoyed by the panderers and politicians who play upon the fears of workers and citizens and make promises they know cannot come to fruition. Despite what people think NAFTA has been good for the US, overall. Just go read the numbers. The facts are globalization is a reality and the US has far outstripped the rest of the world when it comes to succeeding in world trade.

So, why are the presidential nominees going on about how they’re going to pull out of NAFTA or get it changed to supposedly get American jobs back from those foreign lands? Do American workers realize that Canadians and Mexicans feel that the United States has unfairly taken away jobs and opportunities from them? In fact many feel the United States have profited largely at their expense, especially those in agricultural. What is often ignored in the US about lost jobs is that often these losses have nothing to do with NAFTA but instead incentives and tax breaks to increase productivity, the use of automation, investment in foreign nations, industries, and business, outsourcing jobs to foreign nations (like India), and so on. That being said that doesn’t mean measures could not be put in place to eliminate these incentives for companies to strip citizens of their jobs.

So then we come to the candidates: the indifferent, the negotiator, and the re-trainer.

Obama’s indifferent, utterly direction-less and vision-less campaign makes some bland promise about calling the leaders of Canada and Mexico in order to change the agreement. This shows his complete lack of sophistication involved with international politics and negotiation of treaties, not to mention giving an odd impression of one thinking he can simply crank up the charm and avoid the complexities involved. The other problem lay in Obama believing the government can make and control jobs that may or my not be well paying.

Clinton, being a (former?) supporter of NAFTA, at least understands the ramifications of the treaty and the need for all three nations to negotiate their concerns: United States – industry, Canada – environment, Mexico – agriculture. I like that she gives actual workable options to address US concerns in this area from both within the US by eliminating tax breaks and incentives for outsourcing, for example, as well as without. At least Clinton gives solid examples of what she would do versus the etherealness of Obama’s words.

McCain is a strong supporter of NAFTA. Despite efforts on some to demonize his support of free trade (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc) McCain has also proposed ideas to mitigate potentially lost jobs: educational opportunities, retraining, modernization, and overhauling unemployment insurance programs. All of these you would think unions would be supportive of since it ensures their members have some recourse in the event of lost jobs due to technological and trade advancements. He does seem weak on environmental concerns associated with NAFTA.

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4 thoughts on “NAFTA Thoughts

  1. By its very definition NAFTA is a free trade agreement. That doesn’t necessarily mean a free trade agreement in genuine free trade. Free trade has not genuinely existed in a pure form for quite some time.

    I’m afraid you’re last statement in error. NAFTA only applies to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Overall, NAFTA does not impose tougher regulations and unequal tariffs and tax burden with one exception agreed upon by all parties: agriculture. Any such tariffs and taxes were negotiated in bilateral agreements outside of NAFTA. May I suggest reading about the provisions involving NAFTA, both good and bad before, making such inaccurate assertions.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. NAFTA is just the north american arm of the WTO.

    … And just because NAFTA means North American Free Trade Agreement it doesn’t actually make it a free trade agreement in a real sense. You can call anything anything you want… but it doesn’t actually make it so.

  3. My first reaction was to simply laugh because that first sentence makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist but that would be disrespectful. I know you are serious and believe what you are saying so I’ll just clarify some things.

    Remember the WTO deals with the rules of trade between nations. It is an organization. NAFTA is a treaty negotiated under international agreements created through WTO. That doesn’t make the treaty an arm of WTO, just a product of the rule governing the treaty’s negotiation. As you say: “You can call anything anything you want… but it doesn’t actually make it so.”

    Obviously you’re against NAFTA. Period. That’s a perfectly legitimate position to take. I have no opinion on NAFTA one way or the other. Some aspects I like (lowering and eliminating taxes/tariffs), others I do not (worker exploitation and environmental concerns). But we’ve divuerged widely off the point of the orignal post: noting political exploitation and the different candidate’s approaches to an issue (NAFTA and it’s effects) and how said issue is addressed.

    Regards.

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