Chamber president discusses NAFTA's impact on Mid-Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Chamber president discusses NAFTA's impact on Mid-Michigan

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

President Donald Trump is holding off on plans to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement for now.

Withdrawing from the 23-year-old accord was one of the president's major campaign promises. As his first 100 days approach their end, Trump is moving fast to check items off the list.

He has made it clear the termination of NAFTA is still on the table should he feel Mexico and Canada are not giving the U.S. a fair deal.

So how has NAFTA impacted the Great Lakes Bay Region?

"Manufacturing jobs being a higher percentage in the state of Michigan, probably is impacted more than other states across the United States," said Ryan Carley, president and CEO of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

Carley said NAFTA could use some tweaking.

The trade deal has been in place since 1994. Since then Michigan has lost 199,230 manufacturing jobs, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The percentage of private sector jobs classified as manufacturing jobs declined from 24 percent to 16 percent during the same 12 year period.

"A substantial loss. I will tell you from the rebound perspective we have seen some of the higher degree engineering jobs, or the technological side of things, we've seen an uptick on that side. But as we look at NAFTA  as a whole, it would be great to see the percentages balanced out more," Carley said.

Despite the loss of manufacturing jobs in Mid-Michigan, Carley said the region has reinvented itself with different types of employment.

Carley believes there is a way to bring some of those lost manufacturing jobs back to the state, like even distribution of skilled trade labor divided equally among all three countries in NAFTA.

"There's a disproportionate number that have gone to either Canada or Mexico. So from a renegotiation perspective, assuring that it's fair across the board and it isn't benefiting one country more than another," Carley said.

Proponents of NAFTA said the agreement increased trade to the tune of $1.2 trillion in 2015 and also lowered prices for consumers.

Detractors of NAFTA said the agreement led to a significant loss in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and suppressed wages.

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