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The 20 year history of NAFTA

The 20 year history of NAFTA | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In the 20 years since it entered into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been both lauded and attacked in the United States. But to properly assess NAFTA’s record, it is important to first be clear about what the agreement has actually done. Economically speaking, the answer is a lot.


NAFTA was the first comprehensive free-trade agreement to join developed and developing nations, and it achieved broader and deeper market openings than any trade agreement had before.

NAFTA did that by eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods, guaranteeing unrestricted agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico, opening up a broad range of service sectors, and instituting national treatment for cross-border service providers. It also set high standards of protection for patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

NAFTA ignited an explosion in cross-border economic activity. Today, Canada ranks as the United States’ largest single export market, and it sends 98 percent of its total energy exports to the United States, making Canada the United States’ largest supplier of energy products and services. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest single export market. Over the past two decades, a highly efficient and integrated supply chain has developed among the three North American economies.  Intraregional trade flows have increased by roughly 400 percent.

North Americans not only sell more things to one another; they also make more things together. About half of U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico takes place between related companies, and the resulting specialization has boosted productivity in all three economies. NAFTA has also caused cross-border investment to soar.

In spite of this impressive economic record, NAFTA has its critics. Most of those who attack it on economic grounds focus on Mexico, not Canada, and claim that the partnership is one-sided: that NAFTA is Mexico’s gain and America’s pain. But the economic data prove otherwise.

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Gary Yarus's curator insight, February 19, 2014 8:24 AM

A good review for those concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, September 21, 2014 7:42 PM

It is interesting to see exactly what NAFTA has done for North America.  Making trade easier and free between the three countries helps all the economies included.  Free trade between each other means less costly goods.  Also resources can be used from different countries and manufactured in steps not all in one place.  All of the negative comments about it being a one sided deal between the United States and Mexico can be argued with numbers about how it is in fact not a one sided agreement and both countries are benefiting from NAFTA being put in place.

David Lizotte's curator insight, January 24, 3:55 PM

I found this to be an extremely interesting article. I'd say I have a basic comprehension of economics, so I am trying to expand my horizons and learn more about the topic. This article was clear, well-written/structured, and was a good read for someone not so experienced in Economics. 

I find the NAFTA agreement to be quite useful. The article did a good job at portraying many of the pros the agreement puts forth. It is clear that the three nations involved benefit. Throughout the article I was wondering if the agreement had been modified to accommodate todays new technology, trade goods, etc... The article then went and discussed this topic.The article did so through stating the importance in NAFTA branching out in other trade agreements, with nations in the Pacific as well as Nations in the EU. What's neat about this is how whether Mexico or Canada making the trade... all nations involved in the NAFTA agreement benefit. 

What I want to know however is where do these jobs, that this agreement creates are set geographically? I can only assume they are predominately in the South West (in regards to Mexico) and in the North/mid North West (in regards to Canada). Who are the people working these jobs? It seems like they'd be the immigrants themselves, not so much existing citizens. Does this create a problem amongst the masses? 

It seems as if NAFTA could benefit from expanding its trade market. This is something I am interested in reading more about and perhaps keeping up to date with. Side note... in regards to USA being able to buy capital in the countries "cross-border investment," and vis versa, I find it extremely useful and creative. 

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