Reshoring White Paper: NAFTA in the Time of Trump
The following whitepaper describes the reshoring & manufacturing implications of a new NAFTA agreement under the Trump Administration.
Donald Trump may win his fight to change or cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but it is not
going to create many new jobs for Americans. No matter what the pundits on either side are predicting, the reality is
different from the rhetoric. Much has changed in the twenty years since NAFTA came into effect. Low-skilled and highlabor
content jobs were sent to Mexico to take advantage of the low-cost environment. But the jobs needed in
American advanced manufacturing today are fewer and very different than they were when companies headed south to
Mexico and west to China in the 1990s and 2000s.
Returning manufacturing to anywhere in the United States is likely to provide opportunities for manufacturers to
modernize and automate production, thereby reducing operating costs and enhancing productivity, and ultimately,
requiring far fewer workers. Today’s manufacturing jobs require a host of new skills and technologies, and workers will
have to be retrained. Advanced skills, such as 3D printing, running computerized and sophisticated machine tools, and
operating robots, will provide higher pay for workers, but fewer worker jobs. This is not your grandfather’s
manufacturing and it is not the low-cost manufacturing environment in Mexico.