New poll shows Americans' views of NAFTA more pragmatic than protectionist

Press Release from Livingston Intl

  • 45 percent of Americans view NAFTA as contributing to economic growth in the U.S. over the past 20 years.
  • 43 percent believe NAFTA has contributed to the growth of America's knowledge economy (e.g., professional services, engineering, IT, etc.)
  • Close to one in five Americans (17 percent) believes the U.S. should neither renegotiate nor withdraw from NAFTA because it is already an effective agreement or because doing so will harm key industries
  • About one in five Americans (19 percent) believes the U.S. made the right decision to renegotiate NAFTA because the agreement needs to be modernized
  • Only about one in 10 Americans (13 percent) believes the U.S. made the right decision to renegotiate NAFTA because the trade deal is unfair to America; and only six percent believe the U.S. should withdraw from the agreement

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - Many Americans see the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a contributing factor to the growth of the U.S. economy over the past 20 years and the proliferation of high-skilled jobs, and believe the focus of the NAFTA negotiations should be modernizing the agreement, not withdrawing from it.

Those insights were revealed in a recent survey commissioned by Livingston International Inc. and conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. Though it is often portrayed as a bad deal for their country, data from the survey indicate Americans seem to have put the trade deal in context with the broader changes that have taken place in the economy and do not seem to single it out as a principal cause of economic adversity.

Despite often heated rhetoric around the subject, almost half of Americans (45 percent) believe the trade deal has greatly influenced growth in the U.S. economy over the past 20 years and more than half (57 percent) believe a withdrawal from NAFTA is likely to result in a price increase on everyday goods, while only six percent of Americans believe the U.S. should withdraw from the agreement altogether.

"These recent data suggest Americans hold a measured view of NAFTA and would like to see the government take a balanced and sensible approach in the NAFTA negotiations," said Daniel McHugh, Chief Executive Officer, Livingston International. "Americans recognize and understand that NAFTA has resulted in a variety of effects on the U.S. economy, most of which have been positive, and withdrawing from the agreement will likely lead to unwanted and unnecessary economic disruption."

Less than half of Americans (42 percent) see NAFTA as primarily responsible for the loss of American manufacturing jobs to workers in other countries, while 62 percent see it as just one of many factors contributing to the loss of those jobs. In fact, 56 percent of Americans and half of unemployed Americans (50 percent), defined as those who are not currently employed full-time, part-time or self-employed, agree that technological advancements, such as robotics and automation, have played a greater role than NAFTA in the loss of American manufacturing jobs. Even in the Midwest and Northeast, the areas most affected by manufacturing job loss, 65 percent and 58 percent respectively believe NAFTA is just one of many factors contributing to the loss of those jobs and just more than half of Americans in both regions feel productivity-enhancing technologies have played a bigger role than NAFTA with respect to those job losses (56 percent in the Midwest and 55 percent in the Northeast).

The survey also suggests Americans understand the nature of the country's economy has changed substantially. Forty-three percent of Americans believe the trade deal has played an influential role in the growth of America's knowledge economy, while fewer than two in five Americans (38 percent) believe a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA would bring back most of the manufacturing jobs lost since NAFTA was signed.

"In many ways, these sentiments echo much of the feedback industry groups have already provided to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, namely that there is an opportunity to update or modernize NAFTA, but that there should not be a complete withdrawal or any extensive modification of the agreement that could dramatically disrupt business operations," said McHugh. "With 14 million U.S. jobs dependent on trade with Mexico and Canada, alterations to NAFTA such as changing the rules of origin for manufactured goods could adversely affect employment and lead to the price of everyday goods going up."

Just less than one-third of Americans (32 percent) believe the United States has made the right decision to renegotiate NAFTA. Among that population, three in five (60 percent) believe it's because the agreement needs to be modernized, while the remainder (40 percent) believe the trade deal is unfair to the U.S. At the same time, nearly one in five (17 percent) believe renegotiating or withdrawing from the deal is the wrong approach, either because it is already an effective agreement or because doing so could harm key industries.

Survey Methodology:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Livingston International from June 28-30, 2017 among 2,264 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,169 are currently not employed full-time, not employed part-time, or are self-employed. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Dan Ovsey, Director, Public Relations, Livingston International at dovsey@livingstonintl.com.

About Livingston International
Livingston International focuses on customs brokerage and trade compliance, offering international trade consulting, global trade management and freight forwarding. It provides clarity in a world of trade complexity, so business can grow further, faster and smarter. Livingston employs almost 3,500 staff at 100 key border points, sea ports, airports and other strategic locations across North America, Europe and Asia. Visit us at www.livingstonintl.com, and on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

SOURCE Livingston International Inc.

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