NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Benefits of Free Trade

October 2, 2003

Though the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has meant more jobs and lower consumer prices since its passage in the fall of 1993, most Democratic presidential candidates are ignoring its success. Instead they are courting union leaders with tirades that blame increased foreign trade for contributing to the loss of 3 million U.S. jobs since 2001.

By retreating on free trade, Democrats or Republicans risk undoing a decade-long bipartisan consensus on the value of expanding global markets, says USA Today.

Trade has been a vital source of growth for the U.S. economy for more than half a century. Since NAFTA's passage, benefits include:

  • Increased commerce that the pact has spurred is the equivalent of more than $1,260 per U.S. household, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reports.
  • Lower tariffs on goods from Mexico and Canada equal a yearly $210 cut in sales taxes for an average family of four, according to the trade office.
  • Through 1999, NAFTA's first six years, the number of U.S. jobs linked to Canadian and Mexican exports more than doubled to 2.9 million.

The rancor on the campaign trail may grab voters' attention, but the quiet benefits of free trade continue to serve the U.S. economy well, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Free trade takes unfair beating on campaign trail," USA Today, October 2, 2003.

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