St. Mary's Law Journal


Agricultural trade has always been particularly susceptible to governmental intervention and imposition of protectionist barriers. This Article explores the evolution of agricultural trade regulation between the United States and Mexico culminating in the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). First, the Article reviews the existing regulatory framework governing United States-Mexico agricultural trade. The Article then highlights major, proposed revisions to this regime under the NAFTA and offers perspectives on the effect of these revisions upon the United States’ agricultural industry sectors. This analysis includes a commodity reference guide, which highlights specific commodity trade sectors and the NAFTA treatment of such sectors. The initial mixed reaction of the agricultural industry to the NAFTA signals a bumpy road ahead for final ratification of the agreement. The NAFTA leaves many important agricultural trade issues unresolved. Debate will ensue on forms of implementing legislation proposed to deal with related, important issues not expressly covered by the agreement. Other separate proposals to deal with food safety and environmental and infrastructure-development issues are also proliferating. This underlines the fact that the NAFTA will in no way resolve all non-tariff trade barrier issues between the United States and Mexico. Furthermore, many of these issues, particularly relating to the reduction of trade subsidies, probably cannot be resolved in a bilateral context, but must await progress in the GATT negotiations. Still, the NAFTA represents a positive, substantial step forward in the evolution of United States-Mexico trade relations and represents a basis for the development of a new and lasting partnership.


St. Mary's University School of Law