I often use the imagery of a full produce selection at my local grocery store to make the point that freer markets are better than less free markets. Further, I like too make the point that while there are those Americans considered poor, they have options available to them that the most powerful kings in the world didn’t just 100 years ago – maybe 50.
It’s January here in North America – and yet you can go into nearly every supermarket and put fresh blueberries, raspberries, bananas and tomatoes into your cart. It’s to the point of trivial. For example, we just returned from Baltimore where my daughter competed in a dance conference. As part of the routine, we make “adult punch” for the parents to enjoy after a long and stressful weekend. Without even blinking an eye I add fresh oranges, mangos, blueberries and apples.
We have such abundance of fruit that in the middle of winter I can use it for such discretionary purposes as flavoring sangria.
Amazing what opening markets can do:
Walk through the produce section of your supermarket and you’ll see things you’d never have seen years ago — like fresh raspberries or green beans in the dead of winter.
Much of that produce comes from Mexico, and it’s the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — which took effect 20 years ago this month.
In the years since, NAFTA radically changed the way we get our fruits and vegetables. For starters, the volume of produce from Mexico to the U.S. has tripled since 1994.
The results have been amazing.
But, how did we achieve them?
First, NAFTA eliminated tariffs. Cantaloupes, for instance, used to have a 35 percent tax on them when they crossed the border. No tariffs meant lower prices.
Second, NAFTA encouraged investment. So companies like Chamberlain’s have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Mexican farms. That has helped create year-round supply and demand for U.S. and Canadian customers.
If only we would learn from such examples and use free’er markets to improve the quality and quantity of more goods and services.