Americans and Canadians Feel They Have Lost Out with NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is not regarded in a positive light by people in the United States and Canada, a new two-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of representative national samples shows that almost half of Canadians (46%) believe that the United States is the country that has benefited the most from NAFTA. In the United States, 37 per cent of respondents believe that the big winner with the commerce deal is Mexico.

When asked about the agreement, 46 per cent of Canadians and 40 per cent of Americans say they would like their respective countries to do whatever is necessary to renegotiate the terms of NAFTA. About one-in-six respondents in the two countries (16% in Canada, 15% in the U.S.) believe the current terms of NAFTA are adequate, while a smaller proportion (8% in Canada, 13% in the U.S.) would like for their respective countries to leave the trade deal.

Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party (52%) in the last federal election are more likely to call for a renegotiation of NAFTA than those who supported the New Democratic Party (NDP) (47%) and the Conservative Party (44%). In the United States, Independents (44%) are more likely to suggest a revision of terms than Republicans (41%) and Democrats (36%).

At least half of Canadians believe that NAFTA has benefitted the national economy (54%), manufacturers (52%) and employers (50%), and a smaller proportion (46%) think the trade deal has been good for tourists. However, only one third of Canadians (34%) think NAFTA has been beneficial for Canadian workers. Albertans are more likely to express more positive views about the effect of NAFTA than respondents in other provinces.

In the United States, respondents are not as certain about NAFTA’s benefits. At least two-in-five believe the deal has been good for manufacturers (47%), employers (45%) and tourists (40%), but only one third (34%) think NAFTA has benefited the American economy, and just one-in-four (25%) say it has been good for workers. Respondents in the South hold more positive views on the trade deal.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From May 7 to May 8, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, and 1,012 randomly selected American adults who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1% for both countries. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada and the United States. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.