NAFTA has long been a lightning rod for criticism, especially from President Donald Trump who blamed the agreement for the loss of factory jobs throughout the country.
The agreement is now being replaced with a new plan, the United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has received bipartisan support from lawmakers. Despite being billed as a replacement, this new trade agreement bears a strong resemblance to NAFTA, so much so that is has been deemed NAFTA 2.0.
What exactly is different about the USCMA and how will it impact jobs in Michigan?
Congressman Andy Levin and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who have different views on the new trade deal, as well as MSU economist, Charley Ballard join Jake Neher on Detroit Today to talk all things trade.
Listen: Jake Neher talks with economic experts and lawmakers about trade and how it impacts your community.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat representing Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, supports the USMCA and voted in favor of it
“What we needed to do is even the playing field for our workers.”
Dingell says while the agreement is not perfect, it makes strides toward improving wages for Mexican workers and addresses issues of environmental protections.
Congressman Andy Levin, a Democrat representing Michigan’s 9th District, did not support the USMCA, citing concerns about the deal’s ability to protect United States’ workers.
“So long as wages are depressed in Mexico, workers here won’t be able to compete.”
On the role of automation in manufacturing jobs the Congressman says workers need to have an active role in their workplace, one that is not jeopardized by technological advances.
“When workers have voice and power in their company in their workplace they aren’t as worried about automation.”
Charles Ballard, professor of economics at Michigan State University, says trade in general gets a bad rap and advises against an isolationist approach.
“The vast majority are better off from trade.”
He says ultimately trade greatly benefits the consumer, supplying goods at a much lower cost. On the jobs lost due to trade, Ballard says, “We haven’t done a good job of helping those who have been adversely affected.”