NAFTA or the North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., creatina a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force Jan.1, 1994. It supereseeded the Canada/U.S. Free Trade Agreement between just the U.S. and Canada. NAFTA has 2 supplements, the North Ametican Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

      It brought an immediate end to tariffs on more than half of Mexicos exports to the U.S. and than a third of U.S. exports to Mexico. Within 10 years of implementation of the agreement, all U.S.- Mexico tariffs would be eliminated except for some U.S. agrucultural exports to Mexico that were to be phased out within 15 years. Most U.S.-Canada trade was already duty free. NAFTA also seeks to eliminate non-tariff trade barriers and to protect the intellectual property rights of the products.

             NAFTA created the worlds largest free trade area. It now links 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services. U.S. goods and services trade with NAFTA totaled $1.6 trillion in 2009. Exports totaled $397 billion imports $438 billion. In 2009 our trade defecit with NAFTA totaled $41 billion.

           When NAFTA was signed proponents said it would eventually create jobs for the U.S. economy. In 2011 it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of jobs were actually lost. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Robert Scott, an estimated 682, 900 U.S. jobs have been lost or displaced because of thee agreement and resulting trade defecit. The EPIs calculation of jobs lost to NAFTA takes into account jobs created as well. For example U.S. exports to Mexico supports 791,900 jobs. It is just that those jobs created pale in comparison to the 1.47 million U.S. jobs that would be necessary without the imports resulting from NAFTA, according to the report.

           Despite the agreement being considered a boon to Mexico, the countrys economy grew only by 1.6% per capita on average from 1992-2007. in 1993 , before signing NAFTA, the U.S. held a $1.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico, which supported 29,400 jobs. By 1997 Mexico had a much larger surplus of $16.6 billion. As of 2010 Mexicod trade surplus with the U.S. hovers around $97 billion. The U.S. manufacturing sector has suffered the most, losing 415,000 jobs about 61% of the total jobs lost in the agreement.

              I have personal experience with NAFTA. I work for a manufacturing company, who for many years specialized in wire shelving and later moved into heated cabinets and also plastic medical carts and storage for hospitals. In 1994 there was approxamately 800 employees, today there is 236. We lost almost half of the wire shelving to Mexico, with a quarter going to China. The company continues to move jobs to Mexico because of the lower pay to workers. Any kind of large or very important job comes here because in the words of our CEO, it gets done right and people are very please with our work. All special work comes through our shop. Just to end this I would like to say that if companies paid people in opposite countries money they could live on, it wouldnt ge as easy to move jobs away. These are 500 and some goid paying union jobs that are gone so they can pay some other worker a quarter to do it. NAFTA helped kill manufacturing.

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