The debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) spans more than 25 years. The trade deal was originally negotiated by the first Bush administration, then came up for a vote early in President Clinton’s first term with opposition from a broad coalition of Democrats, unions, some environmental groups, family farmers and others.
At the time, activists in the U.S., Mexico and Canada opposed the agreement’s weak labor protections. Nonetheless, NAFTA narrowly passed in Congress after a vigorous and contentious debate.
With hindsight, we know that critics’ objections were justified. The agreement accelerated corporate outsourcing to Mexico, eventually costing at least 682,900 U.S. jobsthrough 2010. And America’s bilateral trade deficit with Mexico grew by at least $97 billion.