This house believes NAFTA has benefitted all parties involved.

NAFTA- North American Free Trade Agreement- was implemented in 1994 by Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The agreement eliminated tariffs and quantity restrictions for imports and exports between the three countries1. Almost twenty years later, the success of NAFTA is hotly debated. While trade between the three countries has increased, particular industries in each nation have been hurt by shifts in production. The debate focuses largely on Mexico and the United States, where it is unclear whether the benefits of cheaper products have outweighed job replacement. In this debate, it is important to consider that there are many economic indicators that may claim to evaluate the success of NAFTA- income inequality, unemployment, GDP growth, trade deficits, etc. Furthermore, NAFTA does not exist in a bubble- North America has been heavily influenced by social changes, technological advances, cross-continental relations, and many other factors which may influence the economy. Therefore, debaters should hesitate to assume particular changes are the direct result of NAFTA.

1 North American Free Trade Agreement. Office of the United States Trade Representative, Resource Center

Title 
NAFTA has benefitted Canada.
Point 

Canada already benefited from having the world's biggest market next door and under NAFTA this benefit is expanded immensely. Under NAFTA, Between 1994 and 2003, Canada's economy grew at 3.6% annually, and employment has risen1. NAFTA has also help equalize agricultural flows between the US and Canada. NAFTA has given Canada an advantage in the US, the world's biggest market, as well as zero-tariff access to a wide variety of American products2.

1 Lee Hudson Teslik, "NAFTA's Economic Impact," Council on Foreign Relations, July 7, 2009.

2 George Myles and Matthe Cahoon, "Canada and NAFTA: a 10-Year Measure of Success," BNET, January 2004.

Counterpoint 

While Canada has experienced some economic benefits due to NAFTA, these benefits do not outweigh the harms for North America overall. Furthermore, as the Con discusses below, Canada has struggled to reconcile its environmental regulations with NAFTA, thereby hurting it environmentally, if not economically.

improve this

 

Title 
The US has benefitted from NAFTA through lower prices and increased trade
Point 

The increase in low-cost Mexican goods has benefitted US consumers1, thereby improving the standard of living for working Americans. US exports have increased by $104 billion2, thereby bolstering manufacturing. While some jobs have been lost due to NAFTA, these have been primarily low-skill jobs; reducing the number of low-skill jobs in the economy allows the US to concentrate on more profitable, white-collar jobs. And even these low skilled workers benefit from having to pay less for their goods.

1 Marla Dickerson, "NAFTA has had its Tradeoffs for the U.S.: Consumers and Global Companies Benefitted, but Critics See Pitfalls," Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2008.

2 Robert Scott, Carlos Salas, Bruce Campbell, "Revisiting NAFTA: Still Not Good for North America's Workers," Economic Policy Institute, September 28, 2006, 5.

Counterpoint 

NAFTA's harmful effects on American industry outweigh its benefits. Americans are not helped by lower prices if they lose their job and have no money. Furthermore, evidence shows the American jobs lost through NAFTA were largely high-wage manufacturing jobs, thereby exacerbating income inequality.

improve this

 

Title 
NAFTA has improved democracy in Mexico.
Point 

Trade liberalization has caused social upheaval that created greater demand for genuine democracy within Mexico1. The election of 1994 is considered to be the first free election in the modern history of Mexico2. In 2000, the first opposition president (not a member of the Institutional Revolution Party) since 1929 was elected3. Many scholars credit the liberalized economic environment fostered by NAFTA for this political development towards a genuine democracy4.

1Kevin Kelley, "Good NAFTA?," Utne: The Best of the Alternative Press, 2011, 2.

2Renee G. Scherlen, "Lessons to Build on: the 1994 Mexican Presidential Election," Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 1998, 21.

3Sam Dillon, "Mexico's Ousted Party Tries to Regroup After Stunning Defeat," New York Times, July 13, 2000.

4 Geri Smith and Cristina Lindblad, "Mexico: Was NAFTA Worth it: A Tale of What Free Trade Can and Cannot Do," Business Week, December 22, 2003.

improve this

 

Counterpoint 

There is little reason to believe that NAFTA was a key agent in Mexican political change. In the time after NAFTA was signed, Mexico also experienced an economic crisis linked to a currency collapse1. Its president fled the country on corruption charges and drug-related corruption continues to plague the country. Mexico has had both good and bad political and economic experiences since the implementation of NAFTA, and it is impossible to say that NAFTA caused the freer elections in 1994 and therefore has been overall beneficial for Mexico.

1Paul Magnusson, "Did NAFTA Backers Bamboozle America?" Business Week, May 8, 2000.

improve this

Title 
NAFTA has bolstered cross-continental cooperation.
Point 

By expanding their free trade regions to the entire continent, Canada, the US, and Mexico have demonstrated the plausibility of greater international cooperation. Although NAFTA is not on the scale of the EU, it similarly demonstrates the ability of nations to work together for mutual benefit, thereby increasing international cooperation. NAFTA helps create a secure North American continent where none of the states need be worried about the other members in much the same way as the European Union does in Europe. Competition and potentially wars are prevented through greater trade integration as is shown by European integration since the second world war.

Counterpoint 

If anything, NAFTA has harmed international cooperation by damaging the parties involved. Due to the continental free trade agreement, Mexican farmers have lost their livelihoods, American manufacturers have been laid off, environmental harms have increased, and the agreement has failed to create the job stimulus it promised. We can only hope that NAFTA is not a typical example of international cooperation, for such would not bode well for the international community.

Title 
NAFTA caused a severe trade imbalance between the US and its neighbors.
Point 

As NAFTA has allowed manufacturing to relocate south of the border and export to the United States the US has turned from having a trade surplus to a trade deficit. In 1993, the US had a trade surplus with Mexico and a stable deficit with Canada1. After NAFTA, the US' deficit with its neighbors increased $107.3 billion, creating a net displacement of over 1 million jobs. NAFTA was supposed to stimulate job growth in the US, not job loss; this failure demonstrates the harms that NAFTA has caused its members.

1 Scott, Robert, Carlos Salas, and Bruce Campbell. "Revisiting NAFTA: Still Not Good for North America's Workers." Economic Policy Institute, September 28, 2006.

Counterpoint 

The loss of US production jobs is part of a greater global trend; NAFTA is not responsible for this change. Mexico and Canada are responsible for only one-fifth of the growth in the US trade deficit. The rapid acceleration of technological communication has made outsourcing and offshore production easier than ever1, and the US is losing jobs to countries that do the work as a fraction of the cost.

1 Thomas L. Friedman, "The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century," (New York: Picador, 2007), 148.

Title 
NAFTA has interfered with Canadian laws concerning environmental protection.
Point 

Under NAFTA, if foreign investors believe they are being harmed by regulations, they may sue for reparations under special tribunals1. Canada regulates commercial use of its lake and river water2, fearing ecosystem damage, and had previously banned the importation of a gasoline additive MMT3. Due to lawsuits brought by American companies Sun Belt Water Inc. and Ethyl Corporation, the Canadian government was forced to change legislation to allow these companies to conduct business. By compelling Canada to reduce its standards for environmental protection, NAFTA has failed to meet Canada's interests.

1 Joseph E. Stiglitz, "The Broken Promise of NAFTA," New York Times, January 6, 2004.

2 "The Sun Belt NAFTA Case." Sun Belt Water, 2004.

Kerr, Jim. "Auto Tech: MMT: the Controversy Over this Fuel Additive Continues." March 10, 2004.

Counterpoint 

NAFTA allows companies to shed light on antiquated regulations. The advantages and disadvantages of MMT are contested1, and the Canada's grounds for prohibitions on the water exportation that Sun Belt wanted to do were questionable1. Environmental protection is necessary, but should be reasonable; if regulations are preventing business for no good reason, those regulations should be reconsidered.

http://www.autos.ca/auto-tech/environment/auto-tech-mmt-the-controversy-... "> Jim Kerr, "Auto Tech: MMT: the Controversy Over this Fuel Additive Continues," March 10, 2004, <

improve this

 

Title 
NAFTA was severely damaging to independent Mexican farmers.
Point 

US farm subsidies make it impossible for Mexican farmers to compete without tariffs; the so-called free trade act disadvantages Mexican workers because their American counterparts are not working under a free trade system1. While Mexican consumers benefit from lower prices, rural farmers tend to be much poorer than city residents in Mexico. Therefore this agricultural loss benefits the rich at the expense of the poor1.

1 Joseph E. Stiglitz, "The Broken Promise of NAFTA," New York Times, January 6, 2004.

improve this

 

Counterpoint 

Corn is only one product in a complex trade system. While NAFTA has undoubtedly given US corn farmers an advantage, it has also benefited Mexican avocado famers- and everyone employed in the industry1. Automobile production has shifted away from the US and towards Mexico after NAFTA2. Each country cannot expect to export more of every product- what Mexico has lost in corn production, it has gained in other areas.

1Amy Clark, "Is NAFTA good for Mexico's Farmers?," CBS, February 11, 2009.

2 Scott, Robert, Carlos Salas, and Bruce Campbell. "Revisiting NAFTA: Still Not Good for North America's Workers." Economic Policy Institute, September 28, 2006.

Title 
NAFTA has failed to give Mexico a competitive edge in the global economy.
Point 

Although NAFTA gives Mexico a slight advantage over its competitors, this edge has been insufficient; Chinese labor is still cheaper, and imports more goods to the US than Mexico does1. Real wages in Mexico have actually decreased 0.2% and income disparities between Mexico and the US have grown2. In failing to provide sufficient means for Mexico to compete with other developing nations, NAFTA has failed to serve its parties' interests.

1 Smith, Geri and Cristina Lindblad. "Mexico: Was NAFTA Worth it: A Tale of What Free Trade Can and Cannot Do." Business Week, December 22, 2003.

2 Stiglitz, Joseph E. "The Broken Promise of NAFTA." New York Times, January 6, 2004.

improve this

 

Counterpoint 

NAFTA gave Mexico an edge; that does not mean Mexico's problems would disappear. Mexico's economic problems are the result of a low tax base and poor education, among other issues1. A trade agreement alone cannot solve a nation's complex socioeconomic issues. Though it is impossible to know what would have happened, it is fair to speculate that Mexico would import even fewer goods to the US if not for NAFTA. Therefore, even if Mexico has yet to become an industrial powerhouse, NAFTA can still be considered advantageous.

1 Joseph E. Stiglitz, "The Broken Promise of NAFTA," New York Times, January 6, 2004

Title 
NAFTA has reduced workers' bargaining power.
Point 

In reducing barriers to imports and exports, NAFTA has shifted bargaining power in favor of producers, who can more easily relocate factories if workers in an area are too demanding. This allows more exploitation of workers, something that we should be preventing rather than encouraging. By allowing companies to move production across the US, Canada, and Mexico, NAFTA creates a disadvantage for workers in all three countries1. This essentially helps the rich get richer while making those who are poor, or middle class poorer increasing income inequality.

1 Scott, Robert, Carlos Salas, and Bruce Campbell. "Revisiting NAFTA: Still Not Good for North America's Workers." Economic Policy Institute, September 28, 2006.

Counterpoint 

NAFTA has reduced the cost of production. In a free trade economy, workers only have the upper hand in bargaining if there is a labor shortage. NAFTA does not deprive workers of something they are entitled to; if a company saves money by relocating production, new workers get hired, goods become cheaper, and consumers benefit. NAFTA may have disadvantaged certain workers, but it benefits other workers and consumers.

Bibliography 

Clark, Amy. "Is NAFTA good for Mexico's Farmers?" CBS, February 11, 2009.

Dickerson, Marla. "NAFTA has had its Tradeoffs for the U.S.: Consumers and Global Companies Benefitted, but Critics See Pitfalls." Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2008.

Dillon, Sam. "Mexico's Ousted Party Tries to Regroup After Stunning Defeat." New York Times, July 13, 2000.

Friedman, Thomas L. "The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century." New York: Picador, 2007.

Kelley, Kevin. "Good NAFTA?" Utne: The Best of the Alternative Press, 2011.

Kerr, Jim. "Auto Tech: MMT: the Controversy Over this Fuel Additive Continues." March 10, 2004.

Magnusson, Paul. "Did NAFTA Backers Bamboozle America?" Business Week, May 8, 2000.

Myles, George and Matthe Cahoon. "Canada and NAFTA: a 10-Year Measure of Success." BNET, January 2004.

North American Free Trade Agreement. Office of the United States Trade Representative, Resource Center

Scherlen, Renee G. "Lessons to Build on: the 1994 Mexican Presidential Election." Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 1998.

Scott, Robert, Carlos Salas, and Bruce Campbell. "Revisiting NAFTA: Still Not Good for North America's Workers." Economic Policy Institute, September 28, 2006.

Smith, Geri and Cristina Lindblad. "Mexico: Was NAFTA Worth it: A Tale of What Free Trade Can and Cannot Do." Business Week, December 22, 2003.

Stiglitz, Joseph E. "The Broken Promise of NAFTA." New York Times, January 6, 2004.

"The Sun Belt NAFTA Case." Sun Belt Water, 2004.

Teslik, Lee Hudson. "NAFTA's Economic Impact." Council on Foreign Relations, July 7, 2009.

X