Americans split on whether NAFTA good or bad

Updated 2017-08-19 11:31:52 Xinhua

While President Donald Trump has described the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the "worst trade deal in history" and vowed to fix it, Americans are split on whether the 23-year-old deal is good or bad.

Ms. Cecilia Hernandez, a Mexican American, couldn't even imagine that her life had changed so much and got better off because of the NAFTA-related job.

"Five years ago, I couldn't even imagine that my life could change this much. And it's a benefit from NAFTA," Ms. Hernandez told Xinhua.

Ms. Hernandez said many residents living on the U.S.- Mexico border like her have benefited from NAFTA for years.

Ms. Hernandez, 55, immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was a child. At that time, her family was very poor and could not afford a car or even a telephone.

Life changed dramatically, since she got a job in an Arco gas station in Heber, Imperial County, California, which is 7 kilometers away from the border inspection station. And now she is a happy manager.

"I've been working here since we opened and that's s a little bit over five years. The business has picked up quiet a bit from when we opened. In the beginning we didn't know where we were gonna get our customers. But now we get it. We got our customer base filled up."

Five years ago, nobody believed the gas station could be successful, because it is not located along the main street. At that time, the monthly sale of the Arco gas station along with a convenience store attached to it was only over 100,000.

However, because of the rapid growth of trade between Mexico and the U.S in recent years, the gas station thrived.

For many residents who are living on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Arco gas station, where gasoline price is about 20 cents cheaper than it is at most gas stations in Imperial County, California. It is the best choice to save a couple of bucks.

With more than 52,000 border crossers on a daily basis for working or shopping, thousands of vehicles now came to the gas station with 24 pumps, which run 24 hours a day, for fueling.

In the first 7 to 8 month, Ms. Hernandez with her team of 20 staff, brought it up to 1.5 million U.S. dollars. So far, the monthly total has well surpassed 2 million U.S. dollars, which was way beyond other gas stations in the region. Hernandez told Xinhua that she felt confident to reach the month total of more than 3 million U.S. dollars.

"My salary also increased significantly from 3,000 to 4,500," Ms. Hernandez said. Along with other benefit, it could add up to 6,000, with which she bought a new car and iPhone.

The Mexican American is satisfied and happy about her job. She works 8 to 10 hours a day from Monday to Saturday. If something happens, she has to work overtime. On Sundays, she always goes to San Diego to see her son and grandchild and then get back to work on Mondays. Her hardwork and management capabilities are well recognized by her boss.

"I think NAFTA work both ways. (U.S. and Mexico both benefit from each other.) Because especially here in the Imperial Valley, we live right on the border, so we depend on them to be able to come here and buy goods here. They also depend on us so they can live a better life," Ms. Hernandez said.

However, a retired teacher, Mark Rogahn, who held a different opinion, saying that the way NAFTA right now is not fair to Canada and Mexico.

He said "I think the way it was set up, I don't think it is really correct, I think Canada and Mexico should have equal trade agreements with the United States. I don't think that is what's going on right now."

Rogahn said "You know Trump is saying that the United States is not getting a fair deal, I don't know what he is talking about. Previously I don't know if it was fair, but I don't think he is going to make it any fairer."

Jason Molony, a program manager in the University of Chicago, talked about the current renegotiation in Washington, saying that the current political environment would distract leaders from focusing on the negotiation, and he doesn't expect much to be achieved.

Early this year, a Gallup poll showed 48 percent of Americans said NAFTA was good for the United States, while 46 percent said it was bad.

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