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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ron Paul on NAFTA

Ron Paul is an openly libertarian politician who supports the concept of free trade. Yet he has been on the record as being against NAFTA. In today’s National Post they are reporting that Ron Paul is part of a movement in Congress to take the United States out of NAFTA. Congressman Paul is allied with protectionists but he is not a protectionist.

 He explains his position in this old interview with Lou Dobbs:

There are two issues here.

1. NAFTA is not free trade. And in this I agree completely with Ron Paul. True free trade would require a single sentence “we remove all restrictions and regulation on trade.” It would not require the back breaking document that is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is, as Congressman Paul says, managed trade not free trade.

I disagree that it would be a good move to get rid of NAFTA at the moment. It is certainly not perfect but it is better in many ways than what existed before and it is better than what is likely to replace it. If Congress would pass a bill with the words I wrote above, then NAFTA can be safely gotten rid of. This, however, seems unlikely.

2. Ron Paul has this idea that NAFTA will lead to a North American Union that is similar to the European Union. This is a gross misconception of what the EU is and what NAFTA is. There is nothing with the sort of power or role of the Commission, the Council of Ministers, or the European Parliament in NAFTA. There is not even a similarity in the range of policy areas that the two organizations handle.

Furthermore the underpinnings of both are completely different. NAFTA came out of the neo-conservatism of the 1980s. The EEC (later EU) came out of the neo-functionalism of the 1950s. These two concepts couldn’t possibly have less to do with each other. It was never a hidden goal of EEC supporters that they wanted to make a united Europe. It was the stated goal to bind together and avoid the horrors of another world war. The idea that there is a legitimate political movement pushing for a united North America is simply unsubstantiated. NAFTA was meant to increase trade and nothing more.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on March 10, 2010 | Permalink


Actually, any international dispute resolution policy is contrary to our Constitution. But go to SPP.gov or to your own consulate page regarding the Security and Prosperity Partnership. It actually IS more than NAFTA, and is ushered along by corporate groups rather than transparent governmental functions accountable to the people -- at least on the US side. This pisses people off.

Posted by: spinnikerca | 2010-03-10 9:49:18 AM

Actually, NAFTA was intended to facilitate trade for select interests. It, as you point out, had/has nothing to do with free trade.

Posted by: JC | 2010-03-10 2:02:21 PM

NAFTA is freer trade. Imperfect, but vital now more than ever. And the interests aren't that selective. It's been a boon for everybody.

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-03-10 10:24:27 PM

Well there is one political movement pushing for a united North America, namely United North America. How ironic.

Posted by: Mark | 2010-03-11 8:20:56 AM

Spot on, JC!

Posted by: Alain | 2010-03-11 11:40:36 AM

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