North American Free Trade Agreement

NAFTA ... is a framework for corporations to sue governments in closed trade tribunals ... how many of your MPs or representatives know that NAFTA, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, will declare your zoning laws illegal trade barriers? In other words, that your government could have to pay corporations for the right not to site toxic waste dumps next to your schools? How many of your MPs know that there are over 2,000 multilateral agreements in the world designed to safeguard workers and the environment - a huge body of public interest laws that put people first, from UNICEF codes, International Labour Organization laws ... and that all of these are subjugated to NAFTA, the IMF and the WTO? -- Lori Wallach

January 1, 2002 was the eighth anniversary of the implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement: NAFTA now has an extensive real life record. NAFTA's proponents promised the pact would create new benefits and gains in each of these areas. The promised benefits - of 200,000 new US jobs from NAFTA per year, higher wages in Mexico and a growing US trade surplus with Mexico, environmental clean-up and improved health along the border - have failed to materialize. However, after eight years, NAFTA fails to pass the most conservative test of all: a simple do-no-harm test. Under NAFTA, conditions not only have not improved, they have deteriorated in many areas

Human rights, social and environmental justice, all suffer under NAFTA.

Since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, it is estimated that eight million Mexicans have fallen from middle class into poverty. Mexicans are suffering a dramatic rise in ill health as their traditional diet is replaced by Yanqui junk food. Mexican farmers go out of business as agribusiness dumps basic agricultural commodities. Mexican farmers are driven off their land to be replaced by agribusiness supplying luxury foods to the US market. Californian farmers are driven out of business by imports of cheap avocados and other luxury fruit and vegetables.

NAFTA's vicious cycle

NAFTA has failed to deliver on its proponents’ promises to increase economic growth, to create more and better jobs and to strengthen democracy in the region. It has been devastating for working people in all three countries and has led to increased pressure on Canada and Mexico to conform to US foreign policy goals. Most alarmingly, the three governments are working to extend this failed model throughout the Americas in the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.


further reading

Sarah Anderson, Seven Years Under NAFTA, Institute for Policy Studies, August 2001

Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh (with Thea Lee), Field Guide to the Global Economy, New Press, 2000

Lori Wallach & Robert Naiman, NAFTA: Four and a Half Years Later, The Ecologist, May/June 1998

Gaia index ~ FTAA ~ WTO ~ GATS
(c) Keith Parkins 2003 -- September 2003 rev 0