NAFTA a net-benefit for Illinois: State experts

Contrary to what you may have heard, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) isn’t bad for Illinois. Academic researchers and state manufacturers say the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico has been great for the state.

Many people believe that NAFTA has sucked jobs from the U.S. and Illinois over the past 20 years, but the numbers tell a different story.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville’s (SIUE) International Trade Center said Illinois leads the Midwest in exports and is fifth in the nation, with nearly $65 billion in exports each year.

Greg Baise with the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said most of that goes to NAFTA trading partners.

“Our largest trading partners in Illinois … happen to be Canada number one, Mexico number two,” Baise said.

Baise said Caterpillar and John Deere sell a lot of tractors in Canada and Mexico.

“$65 billion worth of product move out of this state every year, and 90 percent of it is manufacturing,” Baise said. “While you are in the heart of the breadbasket in Illinois, with great farm land, corn and soybeans make up a relatively small amount of our exported product.”

Illinois’ top exports range from machinery parts to chemicals to transportation equipment like earth movers and big, green tractors. Illinois sells more products in Canada and Mexico than it does China, Germany and Australia combined.

SIUE’s numbers say over 333,000 jobs in the state were tied to exports last year.

–Illinois News Network

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