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NAFTA: an Apple in the Eye of US Execs

MORE United States business executives now believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement has created jobs in the US, and many think that the pact should be expanded into Latin America, according to a survey released today.

Sixty-two percent of US executives involved in global strategic planning favor broadening NAFTA to include Latin America, says the survey, which was commissioned by the consulting firm KPMG Peat Marwick LLP.

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But the trade agreement, which took effect Jan. 1, has been criticized for failing to deliver on its promise of more US jobs. A congressional analysis released last week says NAFTA has resulted in a net loss of 10,000 US jobs.

A Joint Economic Committee study requested by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) of North Dakota, estimates that while NAFTA created roughly 127,000 jobs in its first nine months, increased imports from Mexico have cost 137,000 US jobs.

But the KPMG Peat Marwick survey offered a more optimistic appraisal of NAFTA's impact on the American job market. More American business executives think NAFTA is helping to produce US jobs. Almost one-quarter of those asked said there has been a gain in jobs since NAFTA's passage, up from 11 percent who expressed that opinion six months earlier.

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