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NAFTA Renewal is a Must for Greater Boston

Posted by Ben Stuart, Chamber Research & Data Analyst on January 30, 2018


For the past two weeks, Jim and our Public Policy Team have been focused on international trade and expanding Massachusetts’ role in the global marketplace. That’s because trade is a key part of our state’s, and our region’s, economy:  from financial services to pharmaceuticals, trade represents billions of dollars in economic impact each year, including thousands of jobs. 


In 2016 Massachusetts exported $25.8 billion in goods

  • $3.0B to Canada
  • $2.5B to Mexico
  • $2.2B to China

Top export industries include

  • Computer & Electronic products ($7.0)
  • Machinery ($3.3B)
  • Chemicals ($3.3B)
  • Miscellaneous manufactures ($3.1B)

In 2016 Massachusetts exported $22.3 billion in services

  • Financial Management ($3.9B)
  • Research & Development ($3.5B)
  • Educational Services ($2.9B)

That means in 2016 Massachusetts exported $48.1 billion in goods and services, with $40.4 billion of that originating in the Boston metro area. 

This activity supports 310,000 jobs in Massachusetts and more than 270,000 in Greater Boston.

Check out our Data Source


Just a few weeks ago, Jim testified before the Joint Committee on Export Development. His remarks focused on:

  • The role the business community can play in fostering trade relationship by hosting delegations from abroad;
  • The importance of investing in career and technical education to maintain the skills need to continue the region’s success in advanced manufacturing; and 
  • The importance of NAFTA to our local economy.



Following his local testimony, Jim also traveled to Montreal as part of the Metro Cities for NAFTA coalition, where leaders of 25 metropolitan Chambers of Commerce in the US, Canada, and Mexico signed a joint resolution supporting the modernization and renewal of NAFTA.  After more than twenty years, all parties agree that NAFTA could use updating, but renewal of the core concept of free trade between the three countries is crucial to the North American – and Boston’s – economy. 

Some opponents of NAFTA cite the disenfranchisement of American workers by the increased import of goods and the decline of American manufacturing jobs. But proponents of NAFTA would argue that NAFTA has become a scapegoat for larger economic disruption from trends such as automation and competition from less expensive Asian markets. At the Chamber, we believe that investments in workforce and job training, plus investment in expanding our state’s reputation for producing exceptional goods and services could actually increase the number and quality of jobs.  

In fact, the increase in trade between the US, Canada, and Mexico that occurred under NAFTA supports five million US jobs and billions in economic activity.  In Massachusetts alone exports to NAFTA countries grew by $1.5 billion between 2006 and 2016.  If the US were to withdraw from NAFTA, it would significantly disrupt our supply chain and drive up the cost of goods, ranging from vegetables and fruits (yes, your avocados) to vehicles, for consumers and businesses.  

NAFTA is a crucial free trade agreement in an increasingly globalized world. We hope the ongoing negotiations will protect the strength of the North American market while preparing it for success in the modern economy. 



While in Montreal, Jim was in attendance at the Bell Centre for the Bruins 4-1 victory over the Canadiens. While we hope to strengthen our economic relationship with Canada, we plan to remain squarely in Boston’s camp on this historic rivalry.