Dec. 10, 2002
Facts Cloud Attempt to “Celebrate” NAFTA 10th Anniversary Signing Ceremony
Statement of Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, on the Woodrow Wilson International Center Conference Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement
Despite three million U.S. jobs eliminated due to trade deals since 1994 and the creation of a massive new U.S. trade deficit with Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Bush administration is desperate to declare NAFTA a success. The eliminated jobs (which include 1.7 million U.S. manufacturing jobs) and the surging $450 billion U.S. trade deficit make you wonder what outcomes would be necessary for NAFTA proponents to stop misrepresenting the mess that has been spawned by this agreement.
Spin from corporations and the Bush administration cannot drown out the chants of “Down with NAFTA” being heard in Mexico. More than three million Mexicans who rely on farm income are aware of NAFTA’s next stage, which will come on Jan. 1: the elimination of agriculture tariffs that threaten to wipe out the livelihood of millions of Mexican farmers. But the discord in Mexico runs even deeper.
Given that half of Mexico’s population lives on $5 a day 10 years after the signing of NAFTA, it needs to be acknowledged that NAFTA is not working for most people. During the eight years NAFTA has been in effect, the gulf between Mexico’s rich and poor has grown, and eight million middle class Mexicans who celebrated NAFTA in 1994 have slipped into poverty.
In Brazil, 10 million people voted against a plebiscite on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a 31-nation NAFTA expansion. And more than 50 million Brazilians elected Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who ran on an anti-FTAA platform. Likewise, Ecuadorians elected Lucio Gutierrez, who also opposes the FTAA. This shows that broad-based opposition to the NAFTA model is spreading throughout the hemisphere.