Government representatives from Canada and Mexico are pushing back against the idea that NAFTA is responsible for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

“Despite all that you’ve heard to the contrary, here’s the truth about NAFTA: NAFTA has been an unvarnished, if unloved, success,” said Consul General John Cruickshank, head of the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

He joined Consul Julian Adem, who leads the consulate of Mexico in Milwaukee, for a conversation on NAFTA as part of a recent WisPolitics luncheon held in Madison.

This discussion came in the midst of ongoing negotiations to revamp NAFTA, a trade deal which has been in place for over a quarter-century. The third round of negotiations began Saturday, with representatives from all three countries meeting in Ottawa.

“With respect, I think people are negative about NAFTA not because of what it did — because on the whole, that’s pretty positive for everybody — but frankly for what it didn’t do,” Cruickshank said. “And that is, it didn’t cushion all the negative effects of globalization on America.”

Adem argued to the same effect, calling the idea of the United States losing jobs because of NAFTA “a myth.”

“This is part of a global tendency; it would have happened probably without NAFTA also,” Adem said. “What I’m saying is that there are tendencies as the current economic system we’re living in develops which lead to shifts in the way people live and relate to one another, so that the old scheme… is no longer applicable.”

Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, spoke on the importance of trade between Mexico, Canada and Wisconsin. He said 46 percent of Wisconsin exports go to either Canada or Mexico, and the balance of trade is in Wisconsin’s favor.  Read the full story here.