Agri-Food Trade Policy
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force on January 1, 1994. NAFTA was built on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and expanded its membership to include Mexico. NAFTA was designed to foster increased trade and investment among the NAFTA partners. The Agreement contains an ambitious schedule for the elimination of most tariffs and reduction of non-tariff barriers, as well as comprehensive provisions on the conduct of business in the free trade area. These include rules regarding investment, services, intellectual property, competition, cross-border movement of persons, government procurement, and an improved dispute settlement mechanism.
NAFTA has created a continental marketplace of over 420 million consumers for North American farm and food products. As provided for in the FTA and the NAFTA, virtually all tariffs have been eliminated on Canadian agricultural exports to the U.S. (January 1, 1998) and Mexico (January 1, 2003). The only exceptions to this general tariff elimination are chicken, turkey and egg products, as well as refined sugar.
As a result of the NAFTA, agricultural three-way trade in agricultural products between the three NAFTA partners exploded after 1993, almost doubling between 1993 and 2003. Canadian agrifood exports to the U.S. have more than doubled (+110%) during this period, while those to Mexico have more than tripled (+210%). This dramatic growth, which has been far more rapid than the growth in agricultural exports to countries outside North America, has led to changes in the trading patterns between the partners, and has resulted in a more integrated, North American marketplace.
North American trade has not just been about making products available where they have not been available before. It has also been about increasing consumer choices. In addition, liberalized trade has encouraged each country to use their agricultural resources more efficiently. Each NAFTA partner has developed areas of specialized production, and has strengthened its ability to withstand the adverse effects of weather-related emergencies or local economic downturns.
Legal texts of the NAFTA Agreement on:
- Market Access
- Rules of Origin
- Customs Procedures
- Agriculture and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)
- NAFTA Tariff Phasing Schedules Part I and Part II
- NAFTA Secretariat
- NAFTA Benefits for the Canadian Agricultural Industry
- Text of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
For more information, please contact:
Latin America and the Caribbean
International Trade Policy Directorate
Telephone: (613) 759-7671
Fax: (613) 759-7503