St. Mary's Law Journal


John M. Vernon


The history behind Mexico’s accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) sheds light on Mexico’s progression toward improved bilateral trade relations with the United States. Mexico embarked on its modernization and reform path with its accession to the GATT in 1987. The recent initialing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by Canada, Mexico, and the United States is a symbolic event in the continued globalization of the world economy. The trilateral NAFTA is revolutionary because of Mexico’s participation. Part II of this article addresses Mexico’s progression toward accession to the GATT. Part III provides an overview of stages in improved bilateral trade relations between the United States and Mexico and negotiations in the multilateral Uruguay Round, all of which aid the foundation for the NAFTA. Finally, Part IV addresses the relationship of the NAFTA and the GATT in light of their probable coexistence in the future and focuses on dispute resolution. The turning point for Mexico’s departure from its protectionist trade policies of the past was accession to the GATT. This move symbolized Mexico’s commitment to liberalization and modernization. Accession to the GATT was critical to improving trade relations between Mexico and its trading partners. In 1986, Mexico and the United States embarked on the road towards the free trade proposed under the initialed NAFTA text. These negotiations led to a series of bilateral trade understandings between the countries which proved freer trade could be negotiated, and thus laid the foundation for the NAFTA. The NAFTA preserves the GATT’s dispute-resolution procedures by allowing the complaining party to choose between the NAFTA and the GATT. This provision reflects the NAFTA’s respect for the multilateral trading system and the belief that regional trading agreements may exist within the multilateral trading system established by the GATT.


St. Mary's University School of Law