On January 1st, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, creating the world’s largest free trade area. Among the main objectives is the liberalization of trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States, to stimulate economic growth and give the NAFTA countries equal access to each other’s markets. Some of the promised benefits were 200,000 new U.S. jobs from NAFTA per year, higher wages in Mexico, a growing U.S. trade surplus with Mexico, environmental clean-up and improved health along the border. This appeared to be a great agreement, but after only five years of being in affect, Americans were starting to see the results of NAFTA and the failing promises. In 1999, for the first time ever, Americans say the U.S. trade deficit is the most important economic issue facing the country, above taxes, the federal budget deficit, and inflation.
After years of NAFTA, the American people were starting to see the real effects of NAFTA. The most important feature of NAFTA that would benefit the people is employment and the promise that NAFTA would create hundreds of thousands of new, high paying jobs. There was also a promise that wages in Mexico would increase due to NAFTA. With NAFTA, we were promised lower prices on agriculture and beef, and promised that the environmental problem in Tijuana would be greatly reduced if NAFTA would be put into affect. It seems as if the only people NAFTA has benefited is large corporations. More corporations are shutting down plants in the U.S. and moving across the border where they can pay a substantially lower wage rate for their employees. Corporations can produce their products in Mexico and ship them back to the U.S. with no tariffs or taxes, saving the corporations a large amount. Since the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it seems as if the only people that have benefited from it are the small percentage of owners and presidents of large corporations.
An important feature of NAFTA is the amount of high paying jobs that it is supposed to create. Unfortunately after seven years, the number of high paying jobs has not increased as drastically as hoped. Independent analysts point out that the trade deal has cost U.S. workers more than 400,000 jobs. “America’s chief export is jobs. Thanks to NAFTA, U.S. corporations can eliminate middle-class jobs here, move the factory to Mexico, pay subsistence wages to people there, then send their stoves and other products back to the U.S. without paying a dime in tariffs, selling the products for the same high price they’ve always charged. The wage difference is pocketed by the corporation.” (Hightower, p.144). With NAFTA, we were also promised new “high paying” jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the professions with the greatest expected future growth in the U.S. are cashiers, waiters and waitresses, janitors and retail clerks. These and...