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NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (NAFTA): The U.S. Establishes Free Trade with Canada and Mexico
In the early 1990s, the United States, Mexico, and Canada negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which would remove barriers to trade in goods and services over a 15-year period. Supporters of NAFTA argued that the agreement would benefit the U.S. economy by increasing exports to Mexico and Canada, which would fuel job creation in the United States. The agreement would also cut pollution, they contended, by giving the United States leverage to prod Mexico to raise its environmental standards. Opponents of NAFTA, however, argued that the agreement would hurt the U.S. economy by prompting a massive relocation of U.S. factories to Mexico, which would cost many Americans their jobs. The agreement would also worsen pollution, they contended, as Mexico’s environmental standards were lower than those of the United States.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Would NAFTA boost the economies of the United States, Mexico, and Canada by increasing trade? Or would it harm U.S. workers and the environment? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of the North American Free Trade Agreement this month.
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