EPIC Translations Provides Feedback for NAFTA Renegotiation

In early 2016, Congress passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, also known as TFTEA, that created a new role for the SBA’s Office of Advocacy: to facilitate greater consideration of economic issues during international trade negotiations. On May 18, 2017, the President notified Congress of the intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA renegotiation). The notification triggered Advocacy’s obligations under TFTEA, causing the creation of a report to be made out for Congress. This report was based on the views of small businesses regarding the potential economic effects of a renegotiated NAFTA.

The Office of Advocacy reached out to EPIC Translations, along with other companies who do business in Canada and Mexico, to create this report. The purpose of Advocacy’s outreach efforts was to hear directly from businesses involved regarding their priorities, opportunities, and challenges in a renegotiated NAFTA.

EPIC Translations chose to participate in order to provide feedback on how a renegotiated NAFTA may potentially impact our clients and our future clients. We were able to provide beneficial responses due to the fact that 100% of our active clients do business in all 3 countries within NAFTA. In addition, 70% to 90% of our active clients do business with Mexico and Canada as part of NAFTA guidelines. Moreover, many of our linguistic resources are based in all 3 countries.

NAFTA has never been without critics and shortcomings, though. Furthermore, the White House administration’s current opinion is inward looking, partly to maximize opportunities for the average American worker.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that there are forces in all 3-member countries that are either against or for NAFTA. For example, a major con about NAFTA is that many people in all 3 countries feel that they’re getting the short end of the stick. Yet, there are definite pros AND definite cons within NAFTA. For example, a major pro is that member countries were able to generate nearly $20.8 trillion in gross domestic product since NAFTA was implemented in 1994.

Below are the 4 primary industries that are greatly impacted by NAFTA, according to The New York Times. These are:

  1. Automobiles
  2. Apparel
  3. Agriculture
  4. Medical Devices

We’ve all heard that USA has lost a lot of manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was implemented. Specifically, there are around 800,000 manufacturing jobs that have been lost, to be exact. But many people, including some trade associations and trade unions, have incorrectly attributed the job loss solely due to NAFTA. Companies of all shapes and sizes in these 4 industries have rightfully realized that it might be cheaper to do some manufacturing in Mexico and Canada (to a lesser extent).

EPIC Translations believes that the trade associations and trade unions did not do their part wholeheartedly when it came to preparing the average American worker for the new economy that is full of automation and smart manufacturing techniques. If you take a closer look at why the average American worker was left behind, you’ll find a combination of historically high executive compensations and bonuses leading the fall.

We believe the companies and their suppliers in these 4 industries should have been encouraged by trade associations, trade unions, and federal policies to invest more in their employees and factories in the USA.  Unfortunately, automation and cost cutting have resulted from NAFTA coinciding with the Internet revolution. This is why EPIC Translations encourages companies, trade associations and trade unions within these 4 industries to invest in their workers’ education and training for the new playing ground of the 21st century.

Fun fact: Did you know that on “January 01, 1994 NAFTA came into effect, and the Maya Indian Zapatista guerrilla army in southern Mexico launched an armed rebellion against “neo-liberalism” claiming they were explicitly against the free trade deal. This declaration of war against the Mexican government led to days of fighting and dozens of deaths before the rebels finally retreated into the jungle.” https://www.thebalance.com/advantages-of-nafta-3306271

With that being said, our feedback to SBA’s Office of Advocacy is:

  1. NAFTA renegotiation with Canada and Mexico should be based on a win-win-win formula. EPIC Translations does not believe only one side has to win at everyone else’s cost.
  2. Worker training and education should be considered a high priority, effective immediately.
  3. Executive compensation and bonuses should not be carried out at the cost of other employees in the company.

We are hopeful that our feedback will be useful in jump-starting the modernization of NAFTA.