NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — is a comprehensive, groundbreaking free trade and investment agreement which took effect on 1 January 1994, involving the governments of Canada, Mexico and the USA.

It is an expansion of the 1989 Canada-US Trade Agreement (CUSTA) and is seen as a landmark in setting higher standards in a range of areas, including agriculture, investment, intellectual property, and services.

NAFTA, dubbed a “death sentence” for Mexico’s campesinos and Indigenous Peoples, has led to strong and sustained resistance from a broad spectrum of Mexico’s population. It was one of the catalysts for the Zapatista uprising. Since it came into effect, cheap, subsidized US corn has flooded the market, sold at prices below the cost of production, with which campesinos cannot compete. This has led to massive displacement, poverty, and hunger.

NAFTA disputes - in which an investor from one signatory country can sue the government of another signatory country for actions or omissions which it claims to interfere with its right to make a profit - have raised concerns about the way in which the agreement furthers the interests of transnational corporations, and limits the capacity of governments to regulate the economy for social, environmental or other reasons.

On 1 January 2008, the last agricultural tariffs were eliminated under NAFTA and small farm organizations in Mexico declared “all-out war” on the trade agreement, arguing that the country’s food sovereignty and security are in peril. Massive peasant demonstrations against NAFTA were held throughout Mexico in early 2008.

NAFTA was a key focus of the US 2008 presidential campaign debates, with Barack Obama calling for its renegotiation. However, the call has not been acted upon under his administration.

last update: May 2012


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  • 24-May-2016 New York Times Prosperous Mexican farms suck up water, leaving villages high and dry
    Nafta is all about high-intensive-labor crops. Water extraction increased exponentially. Every year, farms bore farther into the aquifer, and scientists warn that they are reaching tainted water that is contaminated with arsenic and fluoride which is causing great harm.
  • 13-Jan-2016 Méxicoxport Estados Unidos viola TLC respecto a exportación de azúcar mexicana: Josafat Pérez
    Ese país no tiene limitaciones para comercializar el alta fructosa que ingresa a México.
  • 10-Sep-2015 People’s World NAFTA impact: your Oreo cookies made in Mexico, not Chicago
    Starting soon, as a result of the firm’s drive for higher profits and lower wages, your Oreo cookies will be made in Mexico, not Chicago. And it’s all thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • 7-Sep-2015 Le Monde Diplomatique Mirages du libre-échange
    Après deux décennies, le bilan accablant de l’accord de libre-échange nord-américain (ALENA) ne devrait guère inciter les parlementaires américains à persévérer dans cette voie.
  • 4-Aug-2015 Bloomberg TransCanada may recoup costs from US if Obama rejects Keystone
    A provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement would let the Canadian company TransCanada Corp. recoup some of the $2.4 billion spent on its Keystone XL project
  • 28-Apr-2015 México: TLC y ASPAN incrementaron pobreza y violencia
    Sergio González dijo que la violencia desmedida que se vive en México es producto de dos fenómenos: las firmas del Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) con Estados Unidos (EU) y Canadá, y de la Alianza para la Seguridad y la Prosperidad de América del Norte (ASPAN).
  • 20-Apr-2015 GRAIN Le libre-échange et l’épidémie de malbouffe au Mexique
    Les sociétés alimentaires inondent et s’emparent des canaux traditionnels de distribution et remplacent les aliments locaux avec des aliments transformés, grâce aux accords de libre-échange et d’investissement.
  • 16-Apr-2015 La Jornada El gordo problema de la gordura
    Yo siempre he sostenido que el grave problema de la obesidad se lo debemos al Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC), que entró en vigor en 1994. A partir de entonces ingresaron al país una enorme cantidad de franquicias de alimentos chatarra.
  • 15-Apr-2015 El Ciudadano El Tratado de Libre Comercio que destruyó México
    En todos estos 20 años de existencia del TLCAN la prensa globalizada no cansaba de hablar año tras año de las ventajas económicas que tendría México a mediano y largo plazo. Sin embargo, mientras el tiempo avanzaba, el país se empobrecía cada vez más, lo que se reflejaba en el incremento de la violencia y del crimen organizado
  • 15-Apr-2015 El Ciudadano The free trade treaty that destroyed Mexico
    Mexico is the clearest example of the consequences treaties could have on the economic, political and financial life of a nation and its society.
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