NAFTA’s Cautionary Tale (Economic Policy Institute)

Recent history suggests CAFTA could lead to further U.S. job displacement

By Robert E. Scott and David Ratner

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The rise in the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico through 2004 has caused the displacement of production that supported 1,015,291 U.S. jobs since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1993. Jobs were displaced in every state and major industry in the United States. Two thirds of those lost jobs were in manufacturing industries. The proposed Dominican Republic–Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR– CAFTA) duplicates the most important elements of NAFTA, and it will only worsen conditions for workers in the United States and throughout the hemisphere (Faux, Campbell, Salas, and Scott 2001). Since NAFTA took effect, the growth of exports supported approximately 1 million U.S. jobs, but the growth of imports displaced domestic production that would have supported 2 million jobs. Consequently, the growth of the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada caused a net decline in U.S. production that would have supported about 1 million U.S. jobs.