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NAFTA numbers don't add up.

On November 17, 1993, the U.S. Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), accord establishing a free-trade zone in North America; it was signed in 1992 by Canada, Mexico, and the United States and took effect on Jan. 1, 1994. , which became the law of the land in Canada, Mexico, and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  on January 1, 1994. Despite the passage of over a year, there has been precious little discussion of the economic results of the "free trade" agreement. In fact, until the recent de valuation of the Mexican peso, proponents of NAFTA NAFTA
 in full North American Free Trade Agreement

Trade pact signed by Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 1992, which took effect in 1994. Inspired by the success of the European Community in reducing trade barriers among its members, NAFTA created the world's
 had claimed that the matter was settled and not worthy of further discussion or investigation. It was a fait accompli, they said; time to move on to other, more pressing social and political issues. The irony of this thinly disguised attempt to stifle public inquiry is that only now--one year after the passage of NAFTA--can its impact be tested in the field and reality substituted for rhetoric.

This being the case, how has NAFTA performed thus far? Not very well. Proponents of NAFTA promised that the free trade agreement would create 170,000 new jobs in the United States by 1995; even now the Department of Commerce claims that 100, 000 jobs have been generated. Yet the official numbers offered by Commerce actually reveal a loss of more than 20,000 American jobs during the first six months of the agreement. We will discuss this finding in more detail shortly--but first, a few words on the problem with "official numbers"

It should be obvious that studies and reports--however objective and empirical--which document the failures of NAFTA are not going to be welcomed by the powerful multinational corporations

Main article: multinational corporations

  • ABB
  • ABN-Amro
  • Accenture
  • Aditya Birla
  • Affiliated Computer Services Inc
  • Airbus
  • Allianz
  • Altria Group
  • American Express
  • Akzo Nobel
  • Apple Inc.
, conservative politicians, and orthodox economists who were responsible for the agreement in the first place and who are among the few who stand to benefit from it (though at the expense of others). We can rest assured that any post NAFTA increases in pollution, unemployment, or poverty will be ignored, denied, obscured, or attributed to causes other than the agreement. Strategies which NAFTA defenders are already using and will continue to use to protect the agreement include: altering the semantics of economics; lying with stasis stasis /sta·sis/ (sta´sis)
1. a stoppage or diminution of flow, as of blood or other body fluid.

2. a state of equilibrium among opposing forces.
 tics; and, when all else fails, evoking the infamous "long run" solution.

As regards to semantics, here are some tricks to watch out for. When the integrated North American North American

named after North America.

North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 economy performs poorly but one of the three nations performs well, it is that country's success which makes the news. When all three nations suffer from increased un employment, increased poverty, or negative economic growth, external "shocks" will be blamed. These shocks include interest rate increases, currency devaluations, and rebellions--all of which are already happening in Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

The skillful skill·ful  
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.

2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill.
 manipulation of statistics is yet another tactic employed to disguise the negative impacts of NAFTA. Gross--not net--changes in trade, investment, in come, and employment are the figures that are officially recorded and made available to the public. Likewise, only export generated employment is counted, while import generated unemployment is ignored. All decreases in investment and employment are viewed as structural "down sizing" necessary for international competition and unrelated to NAFTA. Most of the displaced workers who subsequently leave the labor force and either become self employed, take part time jobs, or disappear into the "informal labor sector" are not included in the official unemployment statistics.

In the unlikely event that these tactics prove insufficient to justify NAFTA--or when poor economic results can no longer be obscured or explained away with "shocks"--the guardians of free trade will employ their ultimate rationalization: arguing from deep paradigm conviction, neoclassical ne·o·clas·si·cism also Ne·o·clas·si·cism  
A revival of classical aesthetics and forms, especially:
a. A revival in literature in the late 17th and 18th centuries, characterized by a regard for the classical ideals of reason, form,
 economists and conservative politicians will claim that NAFTA's benefits will be realized in the "long run,' which, for them, is simply the period of time needed for the promised theoretical results to be realized--no more, no less, and certainly not today. In the New World Order being crafted by multinational corporations, free trade agreements cannot be held responsible for poor economic performance or any of the "shocks" experienced by the working citizens of the signatory nations. To do so would violate the neoclassical free trade paradigm and the "win/win" fable of NAFTA.

The recent 35 percent devaluation devaluation, decreasing the value of one nation's currency relative to gold or the currencies of other nations. It is usually undertaken as a means of correcting a deficit in the balance of payments.  of the Mexican peso plus reputed paper losses of some $8 billion for U.S. investors and a $40 billion investor "bail out" are but the latest manifestations of the divergence between NAFTA promises and NAFTA reality. Not even from the perspective of NAFTA's major beneficiaries--the multinational corporations and the wealthy--is the agreement any longer viewed as the unmitigated un·mit·i·gat·ed  
1. Not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity; unrelieved: unmitigated suffering.

 blessing it once was.

NAFTA was sold to the public in all three nations not as the profit creating mechanism it is but as a jobs program--one that would create more employment here and abroad. Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Salinas Salinas, city, United States
Salinas (səlē`nəs), city (1990 pop. 108,777), seat of Monterey co., W Calif.; inc. 1874. It is the shipping and processing center of a fertile valley famous for its grain and lettuce.
, multinational corporate executives, and a plethora of neoclassical economists assured us that NAFTA would generate jobs here in the United States as well as north and south of the border. The Clinton administration Noun 1. Clinton administration - the executive under President Clinton
executive - persons who administer the law
 Department of Labor promised that 170,000 new jobs would be generated in the United States by January 1995. The predictions of job losses which were made by labor leaders, Ross Perot H. Ross Perot (born June 27, 1930) is an American businessman from Texas, who is best known for seeking the office of President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962 and later sold the company to General Motors and founded Perot , and economists opposed to NAFTA were summarily dismissed as unsound unsound

said of an animal, usually a horse, which has been examined for soundness and found to be unsatisfactory.
, un scientific, or xenophobic xen·o·phobe  
A person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples.

. Yet after only six months into the agreement, official statistics revealed that the opponents of NAFTA were correct: the agreement has generated unemployment in the United States. Nevertheless, most Americans continue to believe that NAFTA creates jobs in this country. The reason for their delusion delusion, false belief based upon a misinterpretation of reality. It is not, like a hallucination, a false sensory perception, or like an illusion, a distorted perception.  is not difficult to find. They have been misinformed by the Department of Commerce and corporate media reports that distort the facts.

On August 18, 1994, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a six month report on NAFTA which claimed an increase of 100,000 jobs in the United States, thanks to NAFTA. Yet, the official trade data included in the report actually revealed a net loss of more than 21,000 jobs for American workers. This fact was not brought to the public's attention because the major daily news papers never even bothered to check the Commerce Department's own numbers and arithmetic; they uncritically accepted and promulgated prom·ul·gate  
tr.v. prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce officially. See Synonyms at announce.

 the depart meet's new "NAFTA Facts" (See, for example, "NAFTA--Glad We Met Ya," the lead editorial in the August 20, 1994, Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name).
; two articles by Hobart Rowen row·en  
n. New England
A second crop, as of hay, in a season.

[Middle English rowein, from Anglo-Norman rewain, variant of Old French regain : re-, re- +
 and Peter Behr in the August 21, 1994, Washington Post; and an August 30, 1994, Wall Street Journal article by Patrick Lucey, ambassador to Mexico.)

When one performs the proper calculations using the data in the Department of Commerce's own report, one finds that the U.S. trade deficit with our NAFTA partners in the first six months of 1994 worsened by about $1.1 billion. That is to say, growth in our imports from NAFTA partners out paced growth in our exports to them by $1.1 billion. How 100,000 jobs were created by this worsening trade deficit is a mystery not explained by the Commerce Department or the press.

Our own calculations are based on the "trade employment multiplier" proposed by Gary Hufbauer and Jeffrey Schott, two pro-NAFTA economists. This "trade employment multiplier" is 19,600 American jobs (increase or de crease) for each $1 billion change (in crease or decrease) in trade with our NAFTA partners. Applying this simple multiplier reveals that the deterioration in the U.S. trade balance with Mexico and Canada of $1.1 billion during the first six months of the agreement resulted in the loss of 21,560 jobs.

To our knowledge, there was only one mention of this discrepancy in the corporately owned mainstream press. On October 28, 1994, the Wall Street Journal published a 12-page review of NAFTA. This section included two articles of interest: one by Gary Hufbauer, who was now curiously silent about the Commerce Department's 100,000 job gain figure; and another by Jeff Faux, a NAFTA opponent who correctly reported the net loss of more than 20,000 American jobs. Had the Department of Commerce, the press, and pro-NAFTA "economists" properly fulfilled their civic and professional duties, the head lines would have read: "First NAFTA Results Show Job Losses for Americans."

Yet another study prepared by the staff of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress--a study which has been ignored by the press--recently reported that 10,000 jobs may have been eliminated as a result of trade with Mexico alone during the first nine months of the agreement. (Tellingly, this study ignored Canada, which also has an increasing trade surplus with the United States.) It appears that we are a long way from the promised 170,000 new jobs to be created by NAFTA. We are proceeding in the wrong direction, and the recent devaluation of the Mexican peso will just hasten the increase in a U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. Yet more job losses from NAFTA loom on the horizon for all those who dare to look.

Melvin Burke is a professor of economics at the University of Maine "UMO" redirects here, but this abbreviation is also used informally to mean the Mozilla Add-ons website, formerly Mozilla Update

Should not be confused with Université du Maine, in Le Mans, France
The University of Maine
 and the head of Practical Progressive Consultants, Inc. Kraig Schwartz and William G. Steele William Gaston Steele (December 17, 1820, Somerville, New Jersey – April 22, 1892, Somerville, New Jersey) was an American Democratic Party politician who represented New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 1861 to 1865.  are graduate students in history and economics, respectively, at the University of Maine.
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Title Annotation:North American Free Trade Agreement
Author:Steele, William G.
Publication:The Humanist
Date:Mar 1, 1995
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