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North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

  • By: Alan D. MacPherson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified in 1994, linking Canada, Mexico, and the United States under a regime of liberalized trilateral commerce that harmonized procedures for defining rules of origin, expedited customs clearance for cross-border trade, and provided for a wide variety of institutional reforms to safeguard environmental interests and the rights of workers (sidebar agreements). The accord also included provisions to maintain stable flows of energy products, easier business travel, and reduced restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) across major sectors outside the energy domain (a concession to Mexico's oil industry). Despite many side agreements covering spheres such as labor conditions and environmental protection, a central goal of the accord was to achieve a phased elimination of import duties for most ...

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