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Argument: NAFTA has improved the GDP of the United States

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Argument summary

Most sources conclude that NAFTA has had a small impact on the US economy (largely due to the size and global dynamism of the US economy and thus the relative insignificance of a single regional trade agreement), but that this impact has nevertheless been positive.

Supporting evidence

  • "The Pros and Cons of Pursuing Free-Trade Agreements". The Congressional Budget Office. July 31, 2003 Cites a small but positive effect - "The effects of current FTAs shed some light on the likely effects of the proposed new agreements. The Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed the effects of NAFTA over its first eight years using a statistical model of U.S.-Mexican trade.(6) That model indicated that by 2001 (eight years into the agreement), NAFTA had increased U.S. exports to Mexico by only 11.3 percent ($10.3 billion, or 0.12 percent of U.S. GDP) and had increased U.S. imports from Mexico by only 7.7 percent ($9.4 billion, or 0.11 percent of U.S. GDP). According to the model, the agreement had almost no effect on the U.S. trade balance with Mexico, and what little effect it did have was positive in most years--a $0.9 billion increase (or 0.01 percent of GDP) in 2001. On the basis of those estimates and the results of other studies in the economics literature, CBO estimated that the expanded U.S.-Mexican trade resulting from NAFTA increased annual U.S. GDP by a small amount-- probably a few billion dollars or less.


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