Led by the automotive industry, the largest export category, Mexican producers have a trade surplus of $58.8 billion for goods with the United States. Before NAFTA, there was a deficit. They also contributed to the growth of a small educated middle class: Mexico had about nine engineering graduates per 10,000 people in 2015, compared to seven in the U.S. NAFTA that came into effect in 1994 under the Clinton administration. The goal of the agreement was to stimulate trade within North America between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It also aimed to remove barriers to trade between the three parties, as well as to most taxes and tariffs on goods imported and exported by each. Not only are none of these other countries a member of NAFTA, but none have a free trade agreement with the United States. Finally, the 2008 financial crisis had a profound impact on the global economy, making it difficult to determine the effects of a trade agreement. Apart from some areas where the effect is not yet entirely clear, NAFTA has had a fairly obvious impact on the North American economies. The fact that it is now in danger of being abolished probably has little to do with its own merits or mistakes, and much more so with automation, the rise of China and the political consequences of September 11 and the 2008 financial crisis.
Discussions made progress on a number of issues, including telecommunications, pharmacy, chemicals, digital commerce and the fight against corruption. But the way in which the origin of automotive content is measured has proved to be a sensitive point, as the United States fears an influx of Chinese auto parts. Discussions will be further complicated by a World Trade Organization (WTO) proceeding against the United States in December. The heads of state and government of the three countries renegotiated the agreement, now called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and, more informally, NAFTA 2.0. The agreement was signed in November 2018, but still needs to be ratified by the three nations before it enters into force. The U.S. record on services trade with Canada is positive: it imported $28.8 billion in 2015 and exported $56.1 billion. Its trade balance is negative – the United States imported $22.6 billion more worth of goods from Canada than it exported in 2017 – but the services trade surplus overshadows the goods trade deficit. The total U.S. trade surplus with Canada in 2018 was $9.1 billion.
NAFTA was structured to increase cross-border trade in North America and expand economic trade. Growth for each party. It is difficult to find a direct link between NAFTA and overall employment trends. The Economic Policy Institute, partially funded by trade unions, estimated that in 2013, 682,900 net jobs were supplanted by the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. In a 2015 report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said NAFTA “has not caused the huge job losses that critics fear.” On the other hand, it allowed that “in some sectors, trade-related effects may have been greater, particularly in sectors that have been more exposed to the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers, such as textiles, clothing, automobiles and agriculture.” The idea of a trade agreement actually goes back to the administration of Ronald Reagan. During his tenure as president, Reagan made an election campaign promise to open up trade in North America by signing the Trade and Tariff Act in 1984, which gave the president more negotiations on trade deals without problems. Four years later, Reagan and the Canadian Prime Minister signed the Canada-Americans.