North American Free Trade Agreement

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA; Spanish: Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, TLCAN; French: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.  The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The implementation of NAFTA on January 1, 1994 brought the immediate elimination of tariffs on more than one-half of Mexico’s exports to the U.S. and more than one-third of U.S. exports to Mexico.

Many American small businesses depend on exporting their products to Canada or Mexico under NAFTA. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, this trade supports over 140,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in the US.

According to a study in the Journal of International Economics, NAFTA reduced pollution emitted by the US manufacturing sector: “On average, nearly two-thirds of the reductions in PM10 and SO2 emissions from the U.S. manufacturing sector between 1994 and 1998 can be attributed to trade liberalization following NAFTA.

NAFTA’s objective is as followed:

1. The objectives of this Agreement, as elaborated more specifically through its principles and rules, including national treatment, most-favored-nation treatment and transparency, are to:

a) eliminate barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross-border movement of, goods and services between the territories of the Parties;

b) promote conditions of fair competition in the free trade area;

c) increase substantially investment opportunities in the territories of the Parties;

d) provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in each Party’s territory;

e) create effective procedures for the implementation and application of this Agreement, for its joint administration and for the resolution of disputes; and

f) establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits of this Agreement.

2. The Parties shall interpret and apply the provisions of this Agreement in the light of its objectives set out in paragraph 1 and in accordance with applicable rules of international law.

For more information about NAFTA, please read about it here.