The Negative Effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement
In January 1994, the United States, Mexico, and Canada implemented the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), forming the largest free trade zone in the world. The goal of NAFTA is to create better trading conditions through tariff reduction, removal of investment barriers, and improvement of intellectual property protection. NAFTA continues to gradually reduce tariffs on set dates and aims to eliminate all tariffs by the year 2004. Before NAFTA was established, investing in Mexico was a difficult process. Investors needed the Mexican Government's approval and were also required to meet specific investment guidelines. These requirements necessitated investors to export a set level of goods and services, utilize domestic goods and services, and transfer technology to competitors. Under NAFTA, investors no longer need government approval to invest and are treated as domestic investors. NAFTA has also increased intellectual property rights and allowed companies to obtain patents in Mexico and Canada. In the past, companies were hesitant to export research and development intensive goods; with increased intellectual property protection, however, exports of these goods have shown a definite increase. As a result of better trading conditions, exports and imports of most other goods have increased along with the research and development intensive goods. In Mexico, the elimination of investment barriers has allowed investment to expand. Increased trading and investment has then created many jobs, raised the Gross Domestic Product, and lowered consumer prices.
The free trade that NAFTA has established among the United States, Mexico, and Canada has greatly benefited the U.S. economy. During the years from 1994 to 1997, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada rose 44 percent. This extensive growth is accredited primarily to the reduction of tariffs. As tariffs were lowered, U.S. goods became cheaper and more competitive in Mexican and Canadian markets, and at this lower price level the quantity demanded of U.S. goods increased. Therefore it becomes less expensive for U.S. firms to supply goods to Canada and Mexico as the supply curve shifts upward. In order to meet the new demand, the firms must hire new workers and increase investment. Between 1994 and 1997, 90 to 160 thousand jobs were created in the U.S. due to the increase of trade with Mexico, and 2.4 million jobs were dependent upon trade with Mexico and Canada (Harbrecht 12).
The increase in employment and investment then leads to increased national income. The work of NAFTA has also served to benefit Mexico's economy; in accordance with the United States' economy, Mexico's exports have increased, more than doubling since 1993. The elimination of investment barriers has caused a dramatic rise in foreign investment from four billion in 1993 to ten billion dollars in 1998. NAFTA has enabled Volkswagen, IBM,...