President Donald Trump is again threatening to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. And once again, a local international business development organization is recommending the White House avoid that.
The World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara reports that last year, the United States exported $267 billion worth of goods to Canada. But NAFTA, says the organization's leader, is not simply about exporting and importing goods among the pact's three participating nations.
John Manzella, the Center's president and chief executive officer, says NAFTA has allowed the United States, Canada and Mexico to form a bloc that is more competitive on the global market against European and Asian entities.
"We no longer just produce goods for Canadian retail shelves and Canadians certainly don't just produce goods for U.S. retail shelves. We've combined our strengths," Manzella said. "Together, we produce goods for the world. And those goods, as a result, are much more competitive. I think NAFTA is really a very positive force for all three countries."
Surely, there have been trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada over products including lumber and milk products. Manzella notes that NAFTA has been revised eleven times since it was first implemented in 1994 and has given manufacturers in the U.S. supply chains that often times involve numerous trips back and forth across borders.
"It's stimulated the development of very sophisticated supply chains," he said. "NAFTA has helped increase capital flows, advanced the spread of technology and also enhanced productivity. And it's increased the number of product choices, I believe, while keeping prices very low for Americans."
Remove NAFTA, Manzella says, and U.S. manufacturers will find themselves paying more for the same supplies and then passing the higher cost along to the consumer.
According to the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, the United States has a manufacturing deficit against the world but holds a trading surplus with its free trade partners.
Among those paying attention to developments with NAFTA, Manzella suggests, is China, which has surpassed Canada as the United States' largest trading partner.
"China is actually our third-largest export market and our number one supplier of goods," he said. "We currently do not have a free trade agreement with China but we certainly could use one."
Rmove NAFTA, Manzella says, and U.S. manufacturers will find themselves paying more for the same supplies and then passing the higher cost along to the consumer