St. Mary's Law Journal


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will create new opportunities for United States firms and workers while simultaneously protecting United States workers over a 15-year timeframe. The benefits of NAFTA include eliminating conditions that currently encourage or require United States firms to invest south of the border, establishing free trade in services, and eliminating non-tariff barriers which impede United States merchandise exports to Mexico. Furthermore, NAFTA would provide an improved and expanded regional trade and investment base resulting in a boost to the global competitiveness of US products. NAFTA would also increase trade liberalization with Mexico and maintain Mexico as a premier growth market for US exports and maintain the jobs those exports support. As NAFTA’s provisions are introduced, the provisions will be slowly phased in to protect US industries and workers. This will include tariff phase-outs, the NAFTA rules of origin, and a government to government dispute settlement procedure. Critics of NAFTA argue United States firms will move to Mexico due to weak labor and environmental standards. This belief, however, is a misconception. Standards in Mexico do not differ significantly from those in the United States and cooperative bilateral efforts on labor and environmental matters are occurring simultaneously to the NAFTA negotiations. The elimination of Mexico’s tariff and non-tariff barriers, Mexico’s local content, and export performance requirements, will eliminate motivation for United States manufacturers to move to Mexico. Nonetheless, international trade is necessary for the US economy and the US should engage in continental free trade through NAFTA.


St. Mary's University School of Law