NAFTA was not just a “trade” agreement. Trade agreements focus on cutting tariffs and easing quotas and barriers to goods moving across borders. The report points out that NAFTA was much more, giving corporations special rights, incentivizing offshoring and limiting regulation. As the report puts it,
“NAFTA created new privileges and protections for foreign investors that incentivized the offshoring of investment and jobs by eliminating many of the risks normally associated with moving production to low-wage countries. NAFTA allowed foreign investors to directly challenge before foreign tribunals domestic policies and actions, demanding government compensation for policies that they claimed undermined their expected future profits. NAFTA also contained chapters that required the three countries to limit regulation of services, such as trucking and banking; extend medicine patent monopolies; limit food and product safety standards and border inspection; and waive domestic procurement preferences, such as Buy American.”Some of the effects of NAFTA that are highlighted in the report include,
- $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada,
- one million net U.S. jobs lost because of NAFTA,
- a doubling of immigration from Mexico,
- larger agricultural trade deficits with Mexico and Canada,
- and more than $360 million paid to corporations after “investor-state” tribunal attacks on, and rollbacks of, domestic public interest policies.