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How Many Jobs Has NAFTA Really Cost the United States?

(John Geddes – Maclean’s)

President Donald Trump’s trade czar adopted a grim tone today in Washington at the start of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, leaving no doubt that a difficult task lies ahead for Canadian and Mexican negotiators.

“The numbers are clear,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, setting up arguably his key point. “The U.S. government has certified that at least 700,000 Americans have lost their jobs due to changing trade flows resulting from NAFTA.”

That’s a lost-jobs number big enough to land with a dispiriting thud. I have asked the Office of the United States Trade Representative where exactly Lighthizer is getting that “certified” 700,000 estimate. I haven’t heard back yet (and I’ll update this story when I do), but meanwhile I have the feeling I’ve heard that sort of figure before. Oh, here it is—from Bernie Sanders, back when his surprisingly strong run from the left for the Democratic nomination was in full swing last year, and he was accusing Hillary Clinton of supporting “disastrous trade agreements, written by corporate America,” and singling out NAFTA as having “cost us 800,000 jobs nationwide.” Click here to read more.