The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented to promote trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The agreement, which removed most tariffs on trade between the three countries, came into force on 1 January 1994. Between 1 January 1994 and 1 January 2008, many tariffs – notably for agriculture, textiles and automobiles – were phased out. “The USMCA will provide our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses with a quality trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region. It will strengthen the middle class and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half a billion people who call North America home. From the beginning, critics of NAFTA feared that the agreement would result in a move of U.S. jobs to Mexico, despite additional NAALCs. NAFTA, for example, has affected thousands of U.S. auto workers in this way. Many companies have relocated their production to Mexico and other countries where labour costs are lower. However, NAFTA may not be the source of these measures. President Donald Trump`s USMCA should allay those concerns.
The White House estimates that the USMCA will create 600,000 jobs and increase the economy by $235 billion. NAFTA was supplemented by two other regulations: the North American Environmental Cooperation Agreement (NAAEC) and the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC). These tangential agreements should prevent companies from moving to other countries in order to use lower wages, more moderate health and safety rules and more flexible environmental rules. On January 29, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the agreement between the United States, Mexico-Canada. Canada has not yet adopted it in its parliamentary body until January 2020. Mexico was the first country to ratify the agreement in 2019. NAFTA has not eliminated regulatory requirements for companies wishing to act internationally, such as rules of origin and documentation obligations, that determine whether certain products can be traded under NAFTA. The free trade agreement also provides for administrative, civil and criminal sanctions for companies that violate the laws or customs procedures of the three countries. President Donald Trump cried as he promised to repeal NAFTA and other trade deals he considered unfair to the United States. On August 27, 2018, he announced a new trade agreement with Mexico, which is expected to replace it. The U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, as has been said, would maintain duty-free access for agricultural products on both sides of the border and eliminate non-tariff barriers, while encouraging more agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States and effectively replacing NAFTA.
The debate on the impact of NAFTA on its signatory countries continues. While the United States, Canada and Mexico have experienced economic growth, higher wages and stronger trade since NAFTA, experts disagree on the extent to which the agreement has actually contributed to those benefits, if at all, in the United States.