Canadians See More Benefits from NAFTA than Americans

But more people in Canada than in the U.S. think it is urgent to renegotiate the terms of the three-country treaty.

Canadians offer a more positive review of their participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) than Americans do, a new two-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of representative national samples of 1,002 Canadian and 1,006 American adults, 40 per cent of Canadians think the United States has gained the most from being in NAFTA, 30 per cent say Mexico has enjoyed the most benefits, and only eight per cent say Canada has gained more than the other partners.

In contrast, 41 per cent of American respondents believe Mexico has gained the most from NAFTA, 17 per cent say the U.S. has benefitted most, and nine per cent think that Canada has been the biggest winner.

Affected Sectors

Overall, Canadians see more benefits from NAFTA than Americans. Most Canadians (58%) say the national economy has been positively impacted by NAFTA. Only 27 per cent of Americans state the same of their own economy.

A majority of Canadian respondents say Canadian manufacturers (55%) and employers (54%) have made moderate or great gains from the treaty. Over two-in-five (45%) also think Canadian tourists have gained.

However, when it comes to assessing NAFTA’s impact on Canadian workers, 42 per cent of respondents say this sector has not gained anything at all from the treaty—38 per cent disagree, saying it has benefitted.

In the U.S., two-in-five respondents (42%) think American manufacturers have gained with NAFTA, but a third (33%) think they have not. Thirty-five per cent say tourists have taken advantage of the treaty, but 28 per cent say they have gained nothing at all.

Over a third (37%) of respondents say American employers have gained with NAFTA, but the exact same proportion (37%) say they have not benefitted at all. The most negative review of the treaty is in relation to American workers—only 18 per cent think this sector has been positively impacted by NAFTA, compared to 57 per cent who say there has been no good impact.

Renegotiating NAFTA

Over two fifths of Canadians (44%) agree with the notion that the government should do anything it can to renegotiate the terms of its participation in NAFTA. A fifth of respondents (22%) are at ease with the status quo, and say Canada’s membership of NAFTA should continue under the current terms. There is little appetite to leave the treaty altogether (8%).

In the U.S., 36 per cent of respondents would like to change the current terms of membership, 13 per cent say things should remain unchanged, and the same proportion (13%) would completely pull out from NAFTA.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From August 13 to August 14, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,002 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, and 1,006 American adults who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1% in Canada and the U.S. 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 the two countries. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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