The implied proposition—which has been more explicitly stated in the past—that Mexico “benefits more” from a “defective” NAFTA agreement is imprecise, hard to measure, and overlooks two critically important effects of NAFTA for the United States. NAFTA has made U.S. businesses 1) better able to compete in the globalized world and has 2) raised standards of living in the United States by lowering the costs of commercial goods. Americans are now able to afford more products because of overall lower prices.
Adding a 35 percent tariff on imports would raise the price of consumer goods for average Americans and would probably lower overall consumption, as well as the American standard of living. Further, the decrease in manufacturing employment is a global phenomenon present in other countries from Europe to Asia.
President Obama's upcoming trip to Cuba and Argentina will be a chance to cement his legacy in the region. In Cuba, President Obama must focus on human rights and democracy, and push Cuba to extradite U.S. fugitives. In Argentina, Obama should offer U.S. assistance as the country seeks a return to international financial markets.