The multi-national agreement that created the world's largest free trade area -- NAFTA -- now links some 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services.
The Fronteras: Changing America Desk will explore NAFTA’s momentous impacts exactly 20 years after the agreement was signed in San Antonio, Texas as part of an all-new series called NAFTA: 20 Years Later.
Tune in to hear reports from this series Mondays during
Morning Edition, throughout the month of September and October
Proponents argue that the agreement has met many of its goals, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the maquiladora sector, and helping build up Mexico's middle class through jobs and cheaper consumer goods. Trade between the NAFTA countries has more than tripled in the years since it was implemented and agricultural exports to NAFTA countries have soared.
On the other hand, even proponents recognize that small farmers in Mexico were put out of business by cheap, heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural exports. They were forced to move to bigger cities, adding to urban poverty, pollution, overcrowding and illegal immigration to the U.S. The population of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. pre-NAFTA, in 1990, was an estimated 2 million. Now it's around 11 million.
This is what we generally know about the winners and losers of NAFTA, but on the trade agreement's 20th anniversary, we will probe more deeply into the compact and its consequences for the Fronteras' region, and the nation as a whole.
We'll look at the impact on immigration and the backlash of laws that have resulted from waves of illegal immigrants. We'll dissect the anatomy of cross border business and look at how how border infrastructure has kept up with the demands of the trade. We'll explore the environmental consequences in the border region of a booming maquiladora industry and how NAFTA has created border boom towns. Finally, we'll investigate the future of this free trade zone.
Visit fronterasdesk.org for the latest updates and details about this series.
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KJZZ’s Fronteras: the Changing America Desk is made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and APS.