As Promised, Free Trade Agreements Deliver More Trade: Manufacturing Exports Receive Extra Boost

4 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2013

See all articles by Daniel T. Griswold

Daniel T. Griswold

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Date Written: 2011


As Congress and the administration decide the fate of pending free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Panama, and Colombia, advocates and opponents will likely point to the experience of other recent bilateral and regional trade deals to support their positions. In the past decade, FTAs with 14 other nations have been signed, approved, and enacted, providing evidence to evaluate the effects of such agreements on bilateral trade flows. After a hiatus in the 1990s, a number of free-trade agreements have been enacted in the past decade. The U.S. government entered into an FTA with Jordan in December 2001, an agreement first negotiated by the Clinton administration. After Congress approved trade promotion authority during the Bush administration in 2002, the United States entered FTAs with Chile and Singapore in January 2004, Australia in January 2005, Morocco and Bahrain in January 2006, El Salvador in March 2006, Honduras and Nicaragua in April 2006, Guatemala in July 2006, the Dominican Republic in March 2007, Costa Rica and Oman in January 2009, and Peru in February 2009.1 Collectively, these countries accounted for $96.4 billion in U.S. goods exports in 2010 and $71.3 billion in imports. If these 14 nations were considered a single economic unit, they would collectively be America’s third largest export market, and our sixth largest source of imports.2 An analysis of trade flows with each of these 14 countries reveals that, on the whole, these agreements have delivered on their central promise to promote more trade between the United States and its agreement partners. Both U.S. exports and imports with this group of countries have expanded more rapidly than overall U.S. trade since each agreement was enacted. This has delivered a double benefit to the U.S. economy, as exports have expanded markets for U.S. producers, while imports have delivered lower prices and more variety for American consumers and more affordable inputs for U.S. producers. Specifically, total U.S. exports to our more recent FTA partners were 5 percent higher in 2010 than they would have been if exports to each country had grown at the same rate as our overall exports since each agreement was enacted. Imports from our FTA partners were 9 percent higher compared to overall import growth. By this rough method, imports were $5.9 billion higher and exports $4.5 billion higher, for a total boost to trade of $10.4 billion.4 For the politically sensitive manufacturing and agricultural sectors, the story was similar, with the recent FTAs boosting two-way trade compared to the overall trend in U.S. trade, with the additional growth concentrated in exports. Although country-specific data on services exports are more limited, the agreements appear to have delivered a boost to both imports and exports with Chile, Singapore, and Australia.

Keywords: U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Singapore, FTA Australia, American trade policy, United States imports, exports, effects, tariffs

JEL Classification: F10, F13, F50

Suggested Citation

Griswold, Daniel T., As Promised, Free Trade Agreements Deliver More Trade: Manufacturing Exports Receive Extra Boost (2011). Cato Institute Free Trade Bulletin No. 45, June 7, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Daniel T. Griswold (Contact Author)

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics