September 24, 2018

President Donald Trump’s threat to end the North American Free Trade Agreement last month was not surprising. Ending the treaty has long been a key part of his platform.

But the renewed attention on the trade bloc uniting Canada, Mexico and the United States has coincided with a growing round of false and inaccurate claims about NAFTA specifically and American trade policy in general.

To address the problem, North American fact-checkers decided during a regional breakout session at the (IFCN-organized) Global Fact-Checking Summit in June that trade was one of their most important topics — and one that they needed help covering.

“When we came together as North American fact-checkers, we wanted to do something to highlight fact-checking around the region and trade seemed like a natural topic,” said Angie Holan, editor of (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact.

So today, publishers from the United States, Canada and Mexico are publishing fact checks in tandem that tackle some of the biggest misconceptions about trade, tariffs and NAFTA. Throughout Fact-Checking Trade Day, participating fact-checkers will publish pieces related to North American trade using #NAFTAcheck and #TradeFacts on Twitter.

The goal: Bring more attention to policy issues that don’t get enough attention in a 24-hour news cycle dominated by Trump coverage.

“It’s just a way to bring a little attention to fact-checking through issues that maybe aren’t so digestible all the time,” Holan said. “If a few more people are reading coverage of trade and tariffs than we would ordinarily, then I’m satisfied.”

The timing is intentional; 25 years ago this month, President Bill Clinton finalized negotiations for NAFTA, which went into effect in January 1994. And it’s not the first time fact-checking projects have collaborated on a specific topic.

In 2015, 12 fact-checkers from 10 countries teamed up to cover the G20 summit in Turkey. It was the second time fact-checkers worked together to cover G20 and followed a televised “relay-check” in which media organizations worked together to cover misconceptions about the refugee crisis.

Here is a running list of coverage that North American fact-checkers have published for Fact-Checking Trade Day.

Animal Político

Carlos Salinas dijo que el TLCAN reduciría la migración a EU, ¿fue así?

Canada Fact Check

The real story behind the NAFTA negotiations on autos and labour standards.

Facts on Trade


Donald Trump says NAFTA killed millions of jobs. That's not proven

Donald Trump has a point that NAFTA shuttered thousands of plants

Trade and tariffs in 5 charts: A 2018 midterm report

The Washington Post Fact Checker

President Trump’s claims about NAFTA and the U.S. auto industry

The strange tale about why Bill Clinton said NAFTA would create 1 million jobs

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Daniel Funke is a staff writer covering online misinformation for PolitiFact. He previously reported for Poynter as a fact-checking reporter and a Google News Lab…
Daniel Funke

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