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North American Free Trade Agreement

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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The agreement was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas on December 17, 1992 in San Antonio, Texas, and took effect on January 1, 1994. It removed taxes on products traded between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It also protects copyright, patents, and trademarks between those three countries. It was updated with the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, which helped set more environment regulations and helped reduce pollution. It was also updated with the North American Agreement for Labor Cooperation, which helped people fight for better labor conditions.


Since it took away taxes between products traded between the US, Canada, and Mexico, Mexico has been buying more products from the US. It saved U.S. companies on the cost of selling products to Mexico, and it saved Mexican companies on the cost of buying items from U.S. companies.

A benefit of the bill is that labels on products exchanged between the three countries come in French, English, and Spanish. That way, Mexicans and Americans who speak Spanish can read the Spanish label, Americans and Canadians can read the English label, and Canadians who speak French can read the French label.

NAFTA also encourages more immigration from Mexico to the US. Since small businesses can no longer be protected by tariffs, many small business owners in Mexico cannot compete with the prices of subsidized products from the US and therefore many of them have gone under. As a result, many Mexicans have gone to the US looking for work. The human rights organization EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de la Liberación Nacional), a revolutionary Mexican grass roots movement, is a stark opponent of NAFTA and points out how its provisions only make the economic situation worse for the poorest in Mexico and better for multi-national corporations.