Roosevelt Fellow and Trade Expert Responds to Latest on New NAFTA

Today, the US International Trade Commission issued the government’s official projection for the impact of the Trump administration’s remake of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The report estimates that NAFTA 2.0 will raise incomes by 0.35 percent and create 176,000 jobs. This is higher than estimates for the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the trade agency estimated would boost incomes by less than half as much (0.15 percent) and add 128,000 jobs. But it is lower than a bold domestic policy agenda. For example, Moody’s Analytics projected that infrastructure, family leave, and other progressive proposals would add 1.7 percent in income and 3.2 million jobs.

In response, Dr. Todd N. Tucker—political scientist and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute—said the following:

“Much like the Mueller Report, today’s trade estimate gives the Trump administration a good initial headline, but it obscures a darker story below. The commission’s projections are driven largely by (in its words) “provisions that reduce policy uncertainty.” Translation: Big Pharma, Big Oil, and Big Data companies want to reduce the room for local and national governments to make policy changes that affect their bottom line. The goal of democracy should be to boldly and continuously rewrite the rules to meet people’s needs. Inflexible and one-sided treaty-like arrangements make this aim harder and take the public’s focus off of the bold progressive agenda we need to fight existential threats like climate change and inequality. There’s only so much juice you can squeeze out of foreign trade while you simultaneously destroy the basis of sustainable prosperity at home—by, for example, giving tax cuts to the rich and deregulating polluters.”

Tucker is the author of Judge Knot: Politics and Development in International Investment Law, a book that outlines a path for transformational change of trading relationships.

About the Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank, promotes bold policy reforms that would redefine the American economy and our democracy. With a focus on curbing corporate power and reclaiming public power, Roosevelt is helping people understand that the economy is shaped by choices—via institutions and the rules that structure markets—while also exploring the economics of race and gender and the changing 21st-century economy. Roosevelt is armed with a transformative vision for the future, working to move the country toward a new economic and political system: one built by many for the good of all.

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