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Has The North American Free Trade Agreement Hurt The American Economy?

1005 words - 4 pages

In summarizing theses two opposing views on this issue, it will be difficult if not impossible to keep my blue-collar sensibilities from coloring my views on this contentious debate. That being said, I feel that whatever damages that may have occurred to the U.S. economy primarily in the manufacturing segment due to NAFTA have been largely overshadowed by more recent and more serious threats from other quarters, namely from China’s export fueled economic ‘miracle’ as well as other causes.
Robert E. Scott, arguing for the prosecution of NAFTA contends that “the most visible negative impact of NAFTA to be increased trade deficits and job losses” (Bethel University, 2006, p.290). Capitalism produces winners and losers and I believe that some segments of American manufacturing came out as the losers as a result from NAFTA. Case in point, before NAFTA, there was several thriving textile and clothing manufacturers in operation in this region of Northwest Tennessee which have subsequently vanished. And as manufacturing disappeared here and other areas around the country the only available employment opportunities left for many displaced workers was in the service sector (Bethel University, 2006). As more and more workers were chasing fewer and fewer service sector jobs the result was to depress wages across the board (Bethel University, 2006). NAFTA has also given employers a readymade and powerful weapon to add to their already formidable arsenal in their war to crush organized labor in the form of holding threats of relocating plants and outsourcing jobs over the heads of workers either in their attempts to organize or in negotiations over union contracts (Bethel University, 2006). Another threat to the U.S. manufacturing sector comes from the so called maqiuladoras, which are “Mexican companies that set up factories to produce for export…They can be financed with foreign capital and run by foreign managers” (Bethel University, 2006, p.237). These maquiladoras are usually clustered near the U.S. border and they appear to be a great ‘back door’ point of entrance for foreign exporters such as China and others to avoid any tariffs that could be levied against them by exporting directly to the U.S. by taking advantage of Mexico’s free trade agreement with the U.S. (Bethel University, 2006).
Perched in his ivory tower and arguing for the defense of NAFTA is Daniel T. Griswold, who takes the view that NAFTA was both “an economic and foreign policy success” (Bethel University, 2006, p.286). Amazingly, in my view, Griswold takes the position that “NAFTA was more about foreign policy than about the domestic economy. Its biggest payoff…has been to institutionalize our southern neighbor’s turn away from centralized protectionism and decentralized, democratic capitalism” (Bethel University, 2006, p.287). This may or may not be true, but I believe that Mexico is fraught with problems including their war against the drug cartels that could...

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