Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rethinking NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created much controversy and rightfully so. As with all subjects, there are positives and negatives and two sides to every story. After careful research I have determined that I am vehemently against NAFTA and similar trade agreements. In the following pages, I will discuss the background, history, benefits, horror stories, and other information regarding NAFTA. Hopefully, by the end of this paper, you will share the same opinion as me.
It is true that NAFTA has created numerous positive effects for the United States and its NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico. It seems the U.S. has profited the most. The individuals who benefit the most from this agreement are few, mainly the CEOs of major corporations.
NAFTA is a trading alliance between three North American countries: The United States, Canada, and Mexico. It was signed into law on December 8, 1993 and implemented on January 1, 1994 by U.S. President Bill Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas. Politicians were convinced that NAFTA would provide great prosperity for all countries involved, which it has. Promoters of the agreement coaxed politicians into enacting it by telling them it would support free trade, removing all restrictive tariffs. This would “encourage the international flow of goods and capital.” President Clinton, himself had trouble convincing members of Congress to pass the divisive piece of legislation. He claimed that the agreement would truthfully benefit all Americans and this helped the legislation gain the faith of many politicians.
Without a doubt, we can all agree, good or bad, NAFTA has had some severe effects on all three countries. Economists argue that in each country prices have dropped on numerous products. On the other hand, other economists and social critics would fire back that jobs have decreased in all three countries, especially the United States. Since, NAFTA’s conception, thousands of workers have lost their jobs because company’s plants have been shifted overseas. These include manufacturing and assembling industries. This has caused many American interest groups and labor unions to protest NAFTA. In fact, President Barack Obama often met with labor workers, promising in his campaign to reform or even eliminate NAFTA to secure jobs for the working class. I doubt this will occur, but it just goes to show that it is an important and valued opinion here in the United States. Some statistics show rise in U.S. deindustrialization. From 1993 to 2001, there was only a small increase in manufacturing jobs: 476,000. Then from 1994 to 2007, there was a decrease in net manufacturing employment by 3,654,000.
Perhaps, those who have suffered the worst from NAFTA are the impoverished civilians of Mexico, particularly the farmers. Some would argue against that citing Mexico’s poverty rates dropping with increases in income through lower prices for food and other products. However, this is not true for the entire country. There are still many poor citizens, whom have been negatively impacted by NAFTA. As I mentioned before the farmers experience the bottom of the barrel. When food prices were falling they could no longer compete with the cheap imports from U.S. agribusiness, essentially costing them their occupations and ability to grow crops, such as corn. Thus, most of the farmers are forced into migrating to the city to find new jobs.
Canadian companies, much like American and Mexican companies, profit from NAFTA, however they are extremely concerned over several environmental and agricultural issues. Many Canadians are opposed to the provision that if an item is sold just once as a commodity, the government cannot prevent its sale in the future. Mainly, Canadians are concerned with their lakes’ and rivers’ water; they fear obliteration of their ecosystem and water supply.
In conclusion, NAFTA has created both prosperity and controversy for all three countries involved, but in the end it has and still does cause too much harm to too many individuals. It robs the Mexican farmer of his crops, the occasional American worker of his job, and serves as a possible threat to Canada’s ecosystem. Hopefully, now hearing some new facts, you can formulate a more well-informed opinion on this ongoing issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are valued greatly. Please adhere to the decorum on the "First time here?" page. Comments that are in violation of any of the rules will be deleted without notice.

3/11 Update - No Moderation

*Non-anonymous commenting is preferred to avoid mix-ups. Anonymous comments are, at the behest of management, more likely to be deleted than non-anonymous comments.