The North American Free Trade Agreement between the Government of the United States of America, the Government of Canada, and the Government of the United Mexican States (NAFTA) was signed on December 17, 1992 by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and U.S. President GEORGE H. W. BUSH. The U.S. government concluded NAFTA as a congressional?executive agreement, pursuant to a delegation of "fast track" negotiating authority set forth in section 1103 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and section 151 of the Trade Act of 1974. The North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act?the vehicle for congressional approval and implementation of the Agreement?passed the U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on November 17, 1993 by a 234?200 margin, and then passed the U.S. SENATE on November 20 by a 61?38 vote. President WILLIAM J. CLINTON signed the bill on December 8, enabling NAFTA to enter into force on January 1, 1994.
NAFTA consists of eight parts organized into twenty-two chapters (plus scores of annexes and schedules), which together liberalize North American trade in goods and services. Whether a good qualifies for the application of NAFTA's trade-liberalizing rules is determined by the Rules of Origin (chapter four). The principle of national treatment must be applied to all qualifying goods and services. Tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions on qualifying goods are eliminated over a ten-year period. By eliminating these barriers to "substantially all trade" between the constituent territories, NAFTA is a free trade agreement within the meaning of Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In addition, NAFTA liberalizes investment rules, requires protection of intellectual property, provides for temporary entry of business persons, and disciplines the parties' customs procedures, government procurement practices, administration of antidumping and countervailing duty laws, use of technical barriers to trade, and application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Several academic and government studies suggest that these NAFTA rules are causing a shift of some labor-intensive production to Mexico and some production requiring high-skilled labor to the United States and Canada.
While party governments may employ NAFTA's general dispute settlement procedures (chapter twenty), natural or legal PERSONS other than the party...