Ending NAFTA would harm New Mexico economy

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is no fan of free trade. We disagree with him on that and believe that the Trans Pacific Partnership which awaits Congressional action would be good for New Mexico’s hard-hit natural gas producers.

However, Trump recently stated that he’d end NAFTA — the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada — which has been in place for two decades now (NAFTA went into effect in 1994). Ending NAFTA could do great harm to New Mexico’s economy. While trade would still be done, NAFTA greatly contributed to expanded trade between the two nations, including exports to Mexico from New Mexico as seen below.

While a simple chart illustrates overall growth, the reality is that NAFTA has also helped increase the number of New Mexicans working in jobs supported by trade. The following chart is from the Business Roundtable. According to data from that organization, 80% more New Mexicans are now employed in international trade than they were prior to NAFTA.

We at the Rio Grande Foundation consistently work to increase the size of New Mexico’s private sector and decrease its reliance on government at all levels. Jobs created in New Mexico by free trade are good-paying jobs. The Santa Teresa border community is one of the few areas in our state that is performing well. While New Mexico is somewhat late to the party, this boom is largely the result of cross-border trade and NAFTA.

Free trade is at the heart of the free market economy. Abandonment of NAFTA would be a serious problem for New Mexico’s economy.