The NAFTA Disconnect: Actual Costs and Benefits Versus Popular Perceptions

The Conference Board of Canada, October 10, 2017
Recorded Webinar
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There are many ways to evaluate trade agreements. Perhaps the best place to start is by evaluating how well an agreement achieved its stated goals. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) appears to have accomplished its primary objectives, since trade and investment have significantly increased among the three NAFTA countries.

As NAFTA renegotiations get underway among the three partner countries, understanding the U.S.-Mexico relationship in particular is going to be critical for Canadians. In this special webinar, get a perspective on NAFTA from the other border involved in the renegotiation.

Dr. Raymond Robertson of Texas A&M University describes how NAFTA has shaped the U.S.-Mexico economic relationship and how both countries have benefitted from the changes brought on by the agreement.

Although U.S. imports from Mexico increased more than U.S. exports to Mexico, the facts do not support the claim that Mexico has benefitted more from NAFTA than the United States. Recent evidence suggests that earnings in the two countries have grown at about the same rate since NAFTA, and the gap between Mexican and U.S. incomes have not closed.

Furthermore, Mexican and U.S. workers are complements and not competitors for jobs. When employment expands in the United States, it also expands in Mexico, and vice-versa. Moreover, much of the value of the U.S. imports from Mexico includes parts produced in the United States that are exported to Mexico for assembly and then re-exported to the United States.

Webinar Highlights

During the webinar, Raymond describes his key conclusions about NAFTA, including:

  • Overall, NAFTA’s effects have been small but positive for both Mexico and the United States.
  • Free trade agreements lead to increased exports and imports.
  • U.S. exports are often linked to U.S. jobs.
  • U.S. consumers benefit significantly from imports.
  • The overall benefits of trade outweigh the costs.

About Raymond

Photo of Raymond RobertsonDr. Raymond Robertson is a professor and holder of the Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics and Government in the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. He is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.

Robertson earned a BA in political science and economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an MS and PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and was a visiting professor in the Department of Economics at the Graduate School of Administration, Monterrey Institute of Technology’s Mexico City campus.

Widely published in the field of labor economics and international economics, Robertson currently chairs the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions of the U.S. Free Trade Agreements and is a member of the Center for Global Development’s advisory board.

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