After NAFTA: $1.66B Merchandise Trade Surplus With Mexico Became $60.66B Deficit

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 31, 2016 | 4:01 PM EDT

President Bill Clinton signs the act authorizing the North American Free Trade Agreement, Dec. 8, 1993. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - In 1993, the last year before the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, the United States ran a $1,663,300,000 merchandise trade surplus with Mexico, according to the trade data published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2015, the last full year on record, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit with Mexico of $60,662,800,000.

In 1994, the first year NAFTA was in effect, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade surplus with Mexico of $1,349,800,000—down from the $1,663,300,000 surplus of 1993.

1994 is now the last year the United States ran a merchandise trade surplus with Mexico.

In 1995, the second year under NAFTA, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit of $15,808,300,000 with Mexico.

So far, the largest merchandise trade deficit the United States has run with Mexico was in 2007 when it hit $74,795,800,000. (The last recession started in December of that year and ended in June 2009).

In the first half of this year (January through June), the U.S. has run a trade deficit with Mexico of $31,571,300,000.

While the U.S. trade in goods with Mexico has expanded greatly since NAFTA took effect, U.S. imports from Mexico have grown faster than U.S. exports to that country.

In 1993, the year the U.S. ran a $1,663,300,000 merchandise trade surplus with Mexico, the U.S. imported $39,917,500,000 from there, and exported $41,580,800,000.

In 2015, when the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit of $60,662,800,000 with Mexico, the U.S. imported $296,407,900,000 and exported $235,745,100,000.

The United States has also run regular trade deficits with Canada, the other nation in NAFTA (with whom the United States had previously completed a bilateral free-trade agreement in 1989).

In 1993, the last year before NAFTA took effect, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit with Canada of $10,772,200,000. In 2015, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Canada was $15,546,600,000. That was down from $36,460,900,000 in 2014. The U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Canada peaked in 2005 at $78,485,600,000.

The North American Free Trade Agreement created a free-trade zone between the United States, Canada and Mexico. It was signed by President George H.W. Bush in December 1992—after he had been defeated in the November 1992 presidential election by Bill Clinton. The House and Senate approved the agreement in 1993 under a fast-track procedure that required majority votes in both houses—rather than the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to ratify a treaty.

The legislation approving NAFTA passed the House on a 234-200 vote and it passed the Senate on a 61 to 38 vote. President Bill Clinton signed it in December 1993.