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Hillary Hears Perot’s Giant Sucking Sound and Flips on Trade Agreement

October 8, 2015

By David Davenport

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) turned 21 this year, an appropriate time to evaluate its successes and failures and to apply those lessons to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement recently signed and under review by the U.S. Congress.  The 12-nation TPP has, after all, been called “NAFTA on steroids.”  To do so is to recognize that Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton, who recently flipped from supporting TPP to opposing it, has unfortunately reached her position for political and not sound policy reasons.

NAFTA, implemented in 1994, generated plenty of anxieties and attacks in its day.  It was not only the largest free trade agreement at the time, but also the first to tie together developed nations (Canada and the U.S.) with an underdeveloped country (Mexico) in such a treaty.  The idea of reducing tariffs and trade barriers among the countries led to fears of widespread job losses.  Remember Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” in the 1992 presidential debate?  That was supposed to be from the 5.9 million jobs he claimed would go south to Mexico.

In fact, NAFTA at 21 looks pretty good, in some ways really good.   Trade among the three countries is up 300% to $1.2 trillion and the three members are now each other’s largest trading partners.  Real wages are up in all three countries.  Due in large part to NAFTA, North America has become something of an economic power region, now producing one-fourth of global GDP.  North America is becoming an energy exporter and the long-needed energy independence from Middle Eastern oil is now a realistic possibility. In order to increase trade and attract foreign direct investment, Mexico has democratized, another significant benefit.  Improved political relations among the three countries is, in some ways, the biggest gain of all.

Read the full article at BloombergView.com: Hillary Hears Perot's Giant Sucking Sound And Flips On Trade Agreement

Issue Categories : Hillary Clinton, Trade