Neoliberals pretend that NAFTA wasn't an unmitigated disaster

Sanity check:

NAFTA harmed Mexico.

Mexico ranks 18th of 20 Latin American countries in growth of real GDP per person. Mexico’s rate of growth since 1994 is about half of the rate of growth achieved by the rest of Latin America. If Mexico had continued growing at the same average growth rate as before neoliberal reforms it would be a developed country by now (with income per person significantly higher than that of Portugal or Greece).

Mexico’s poverty rate now is almost identical to the poverty rate of 1994. In absolute terms, there are 14 million more people below the poverty line. There was a significant deterioration in the labor market during the NAFTA years.

NAFTA also had a severe impact on agricultural employment, as U.S. subsidized corn and other products wiped out family farmers in Mexico. From 1991-2007, there were 4.9 million Mexican family farmers displaced; while seasonal labor in agro-export industries increased by about 3 million. This meant a net loss of 1.9 million jobs.

The very poor performance of the Mexican economy contributed to a surge in emigration to the United States. From 1994-2000, the annual number of Mexicans emigrating to the United States soared by 79 percent. The number of Mexican-born residents living in the United States more than doubled from 4.5 million in 1990 to 9.4 million in 2000, and peaked at 12.6 million in 2009.

NAFTA also increasingly tied Mexico to the U.S. economy, at a time when the U.S. economy was becoming dependent on growth driven by asset bubbles. As a result, Mexico suffered a recession when the stock market bubble burst in 2000-2002, and was one the hardest hit countries in the region during the U.S. Great Recession, with a drop of 6.7 percent of GDP. The Mexican economy was even harder hit by the peso crisis in 1994-95, losing 9.5 percent of GDP during the downturn; the crisis was caused by the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates in 1994.

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