After NAFTA: Cumulative U.S. Merchandise Trade Deficit With Mexico Nears $1,000,000,000,000

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 26, 2017 | 5:57pm EST
Former President Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton joined together at the White House to express support for NAFTA, September 1993. (Screen Capture)

( - The cumulative merchandise trade deficit that the United States has run with Mexico in the 23 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect is nearing $1,000,000,000,000, according to data published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the period from January 1994 through November 2016, according to Census Bureau numbers, the United States ran a cumulative merchandise trade deficit with Mexico of $986,532,000,000.

The United States now sends more money to Mexico each year through our bilateral merchandise trade deficit than we spend on our own homeland security through the federal Department of Homeland Security.

In calendar year 2015 alone, the bilateral U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Mexico was $60,662,800,000. That was $18,098,800,000 more than the $42,564,000,000 the United States government spent in fiscal 2015 on the Department of Homeland Security, according to Treasury Department numbers.

In the first eleven months of 2016 (November is the latest month reported), the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Mexico was $58,798,600,000. That 11-month deficit was already $13,603,600,000 more than the $45,195,000,000 that the U.S. government spent on the Department of Homeland Security in all twelve months of fiscal 2016.

In the three years immediately before NAFTA took effect and in the first year after it took effect, the United States ran merchandise trade surpluses—not deficits--with Mexico, according to the Census Bureau.

The House and Senate approved NAFTA in 1993--not as an international treaty that would have required a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate--but under so-called “fast track” authority, which required only simple majorities in the House and Senate. President Bill Clinton signed it in December 1993.

In 1991 ($2,147,600,000),1992 ($5,381,200,000), 1993 ($1,663,300,000) and 1994 ($1,349,800,000), the U.S. ran a cumulative merchandise trade surplus with Mexico of $10,541,900,000.

Then in 1995, one year after NAFTA took effect, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit with Mexico of $15,808,300,000.

In every year since then—in fact, in every month since then--the U.S. has run merchandise trade deficits with Mexico.


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