NAFTA
"The free trade argument states that, if each nation produces what it does
best and permits trade, over the long run all will enjoy lower prices and higher
levels of output, income, and consumption that could be achieved in
isolation." The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), implemented in

January of 1994, created a situation in North America in which there are no
taxes on most products imported and exported between the three countries.

Ideally, the governments of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico believed that breaking
the trading barriers would increase jobs and other things as it bettered each of
their economies. NAFTA, however, has not necessarily helped the economies in the
way in which the governments had projected. There was much speculation before
the signing of the treaty that NAFTA would not work out the way it was projected
to. Some economists believed that one major problem which NAFTA would create, as
opposed to what the governments thought, is loss of jobs. "In Canada and
the United States, much of the political opinions against NAFTA has centered
around the low wage rates in Mexico and the possibility of jobs being moved
south of the Rio Grande River." It had seemed obvious for some that many
wealthy factory owners would move to or expand in Mexico, resulting in thousands
of lost jobs. As well, this would clearly create more exports for Mexico, and
less exports for Canada and the United States. However, in the eight months
after the implementation of the agreement, Canada had exported 33.2% more to

Mexico and imported 31% more from Mexico than usual. This may show that Canada
still exported more to Mexico then it imported from them, but, one must think
that when the agreement! was first implemented, exports to Mexico may have
included factors of production, businesses, etc. If so, these exports will have
soon leveled off and jobs would be lost in Canada as businesses moved to Mexico.

This has been seen to be case with the United States. "Although U.S.
exports to Mexico have grown since NAFTA went into effect, the

Administration’s [Clinton’s] own numbers show that imports from Mexico have
gone through the roof; a U.S. trade surplus of $1.7 billion in 1993 spiraled
downward into a deficit of $15.4 billion by 1995." Not only has NAFTA
caused a loss in jobs in all three countries, but it has also caused a decrease
in job benefits for workers in Canada and the United States. Before NAFTA went
into effect, the corporate group USA*NAFTA claimed that "NAFTA itself will
improve working conditions by generating economic growth, which will enable all
three countries to provide more jobs with higher pay in a better working
environment." However, this proved not to be the case. In actuality, NAFTA
has given corporations more power to lower wages and decrease working
conditions. "The most direct method is through ‘whipsaw bargaining,’ or
threatening to shift production to Mexico unless workers agreed to
concessions." In a situation where one’s job is at risk, one must accept
wage and benefit cuts. It seems as though since the implementation of NAFTA,
workers rights have diminished. Even though productivity growth has occurred in
many corporations, "In Canada, as well as in the U.S., real wages ar! e
stagnating and the proportion of full-time workers living in poverty continues
to grow." There should never be any workers, let alone full-time workers,
living in poverty. In Canada as in any country, poverty should not exist among
the working class. This is definitely not the case in Mexico where NAFTA has
slammed the middle class back into poverty. Another thing which NAFTA affects is
the environment. NAFTA supporters promised that the agreement would lead to
increased investment in environmental cleanup and less maquiladoras along the

U.S.-Mexico border. However, many communities still lack access to both water
and sewage systems. "Today, only 10 percent of Mexico’s yearly output of

7 million tons of hazardous waste receives adequate treatment, with the rest
poured into clandestine waste dumps or municipal sewers." Maquiladoras are
plants owned by foreign companies which send raw materials to Mexico for
assembly. NAFTA has eliminated the duty on the importation of those goods back
to Canada and the United States. NAFTA has caused an increase in the amount of
maquiladoras. This has caused an increase in the amount of pollution in Mexico.

NAFTA has taken emphasis away from the global environment as it puts the
production of goods and exportation first. If workers aren’t healthy, are we
not headed for lower levels of pro! duction? This is without even mentioning the
possibilities of a