What Resulted from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?

June 15, 2022

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico that came into effect on January 1, 1994. This agreement aimed to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the three countries, promoting economic growth and job creation.

Over the years, NAFTA has had significant impacts on various aspects of the North American economy, resulting in both positive and negative outcomes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key results that have emerged from this historic trade agreement.

Increased Trade

One of the primary goals of NAFTA was to facilitate trade among the three countries. By eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers, the agreement has led to a substantial increase in cross-border trade. According to the International Trade Administration, trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has more than tripled since NAFTA’s implementation, reaching over $1.2 trillion in 2020.

The removal of trade barriers has allowed businesses to expand their market access and reach a wider consumer base. This has resulted in increased export opportunities for various industries, such as automotive, agriculture, and manufacturing. For example, the automotive sector has benefited greatly from NAFTA, with integrated supply chains and increased production efficiency.

Job Creation

NAFTA has also played a significant role in job creation across the three countries. The increased trade and investment brought about by the agreement have stimulated economic growth and generated employment opportunities. According to the United States Trade Representative, nearly 5 million American jobs are supported by trade with Mexico and Canada.

Industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and services have experienced job growth due to the expansion of trade. However, it is important to note that there have been winners and losers within these sectors. While some industries have thrived, others have faced challenges and job losses as a result of increased competition.

Displacement of Industries

NAFTA’s implementation has led to the relocation and restructuring of industries in all three countries. As trade barriers were dismantled, some industries faced increased competition from imports, leading to the closure of businesses and job losses in certain sectors.

For example, the textile and apparel industry in the United States faced stiff competition from lower-cost imports, particularly from Mexico. This resulted in job losses and the decline of domestic manufacturing in this sector. Similarly, the agricultural sector in Mexico experienced challenges as it had to compete with subsidized agricultural imports from the United States.


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has undeniably had a significant impact on the economies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Increased trade, job creation, and industry displacement are among the key results that have emerged from this trade agreement.

While NAFTA has brought about numerous benefits, it has also presented challenges for certain industries and workers. It is essential for policymakers to consider these outcomes when negotiating and implementing future trade agreements to ensure a balanced and inclusive approach to international trade.

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