Richardson Nomination May Be Key To Protecting NAFTA

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson

As discouraged as I am about the Obama administration’s on-the-record negativity about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the one spark of hope is the nomination of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce.  Perhaps due to Richardson’s proximity to Mexico, he has been one of the most prominent Democratic supporters of NAFTA, and one of the rare pro-free trade Democrats. He is generally recognized as the only former Democratic presidential candidate who did not call for a renegotiation of the free trade agreement.

NAFTA is by far the most important piece of trade legislation ever passed by Congress. The benefits of NAFTA have been consolidating. Since 2000 our deficit on manufactured goods and agricultural products with Canada and Mexico (our first and third largest trading partners respectively) has grown just $3.5 billion. Compare this to China over the same period where our deficit has grown $173 billion or fifty times greater on less than half the volume of trade.

Now that Obama has made a gesture to support free trade with the Richardson selection, let’s hope that Richardson has the clout to advance his NAFTA stance and get Obama to back down from his threat to renegotiate NAFTA.  He may have his work cut out since VP choice Joe Biden, after initially supporting NAFTA, backed off his support during the political campaign.  Reaffirming NAFTA is the key to creating millions of new American jobs by expanding exports to our critical free trade partners.

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