Fourteen years after the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed it has been fully implemented. Starting Jan. 1, 2008, the final trade restrictions on U.S. exports of corn, dry edible beans, dry milk and high fructose corn syrup have been removed, as have barriers to Mexican exports of sugar and horticultural products.
Since 1994, U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico have nearly tripled to an estimated $28 billion in 2008. Two-way trade has also tripled during that time to around $30 billion a year. Acting Ag Secretary Chuck Conner says the significance of the agreement goes far beyond the trade numbers.
"NAFTA has served as a model and foundation for our ongoing efforts to advance the objective of trade liberalization," Conner says. "In this hemisphere, the positive lessons from NAFTA have helped facilitate the move toward the free flow of agricultural products between an ever expanding number of countries. Our recently concluded trade agreements with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, and, pending Congressional approval, Colombia and Panama, will strengthen democratic institutions, strip away barriers to trade, eliminate tariffs, open markets, and promote investment, economic growth and opportunity."