In 2012, 51 leading economic experts were asked what they thought about the following statement:
On average, citizens of the U.S. have been better off with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) than they would have been if the trade rules for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico prior to NAFTA had remained in place.
One hundred percent of the economists who had an opinion agreed that citizens of the U.S. have been better off with NAFTA than we would have been without it.
Politicians tell another story.
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said, “I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America, and I never have.” Donald Trump called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever signed in the history of our country.” Hillary Clinton once said, “I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning.”
There’s overwhelming evidence that the economists are right about NAFTA, and the politicians are wrong.
U.S. income per person is much higher than when NAFTA took effect. Average income per person has actually increased more here than in Mexico.
U.S. manufacturing output is way up, and manufacturing workers make more money than ever.
In Mexico, incomes are dramatically higher and poverty rates are dramatically lower than they were when NAFTA took effect.
That’s not to say that NAFTA single-handedly generated all these improvements. But it certainly didn’t inflict the damage that some politicians and other critics assert.