NAFTA turns 20

Feb 05, 2015

How has it impacted agriculture?

By Diego Flammini,

The United States Department of Agriculture’ (USDA) Economic Research Service released a report about the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and how it’s impacted agricultural relations between the three countries involved in NAFTA – The United States, Canada and Mexico.

Before we can start looking at the impact NAFTA has had on agriculture, a quick history lesson about it is in order.

What is NAFTA?

Website describes it as “a comprehensive trade agreement that sets the rules of trade and investment between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Since the agreement entered into force on January 1, 1994, NAFTA has systematically eliminated most tariff and non-tariff barriers to free trade and investment between the three NAFTA countries.”

Among the stats listed in the report are:

- Total trade between Canada, USA and Mexico was nearly $82 billion in 2013, up from $16.7 billion in 1993.

- When it comes to grains, livestock products and fruits and vegetables, all three countries for the most part have higher degrees of mixture of imported products.

- US corn exports to Mexico are more than four times what they were before NAFTA.

- Between 1993 and 2013, trade in livestock products went from just over $4 billion to over $15 billion.

Brief NAFTA Timeline

1979 – A “North American agreement” is brought up by US President Ronald Regan so the goods and people of North America can cross boundaries freely.

- 1989 – Canada – USA Free Trade Agreement comes into effect.

- 1991 – Trade regulation talks begin between Canada, USA, and Mexico.

- 1992 – Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and US President George Bush officially sign NAFTA.

- 1994 – January 1, NAFTA comes into effect.

- 2008 – NAFTA is fully implemented. Countries experience a combined $940 billion growth in trade.


Canada, United States and Mexico are the countries involved with NAFTA.