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What Is NAFTA?

NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Its objective was to help the U.S. and the other NAFTA members, Canada and Mexico, compete with the growing European trade area. It took three Presidents to make it happen -- Reagan, Bush and Clinton -- but it was finally signed in 1993. Nearly 20 years later, trade has more than quadrupled.

However, success for many came with at a cost for quite a few. As a result, this massively important agreement has become a controversial lightning rod during every election. Find out who benefits from NAFTA, who suffered the consequences, and whether the world's largest trade agreement was worth it.

Facts About NAFTA
NAFTA was created to strengthen economies of U.S., Mexico and Canada. It is also blamed for taking away U.S. jobs and hurting Mexico's farmers and its environment. What are the facts behind the hype?

History and Purpose of NAFTA
President Reagan first proposed a North American trade agreement during his Presidency. George H.W. Bush negotiated the agreement, while Bill Clinton made sure it got signed. NAFTA's purpose was to give each of its members Most Favored Nation trade status. This removed trade barriers and tariffs, and allowed businesses to invest freely across...

Advantages of NAFTA
What are the benefits of NAFTA? First, it created the largest free trade area in the world. It has connected 450 million people -- the residents of the U.S., Canada and Mexico -- through a lower cost of doing business. As a result, trade has grown to $1.6 trillion in the last 20 years. This is a far cry from the paltry $297 billion traded in...

Disadvantages of NAFTA
NAFTA has been criticized for both displacing American workers and decreasing wage levels for those that remain. Mexican workers have also suffered, as have Mexican farmers and its environment. Find out the facts behind these accusations, and how NAFTA contributed to these problems.

Do You Think NAFTA Is Good for America?
Do you think NAFTA is good for America? Is it helping American workers, or stealing jobs? Share your views on whether NAFTA has helped or hurt the U.S. economy.

Why Do Companies Outsource Jobs?
U.S. companies often have to open factories in emerging markets, like Mexico, to gain access to lower cost workers. However, this is just one reason for jobs outsourcing. Find out the many other reasons, and how jobs outsourcing affects the U.S. economy overall.

Mexico's Economy
Even before NAFTA, the economies of the U.S. and Mexico were highly interdependent. Find out how NAFTA helped and hindered Mexico's economy.

Obama Campaigned Against NAFTA
During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama campaigned on a anti-free trade platform. He promised to renegotiate NAFTA to improve the rights of workers and enforce environmental safeguards. Once elected, he has not revisited those campaign pledges. Find out exactly what Obama said and why.

Ron Paul Opposes NAFTA
Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul campaigned on ending NAFTA in his 2008 Presidential race. NAFTA has yet to come up in the 2012 campaign, but one thing is for sure -- Dr. Paul hasn't changed his mind. Find out his position, and what he would do about NAFTA if elected President.

John McCain Supportss NAFTA
In the 2008 Presidential campaign, Republican nominee John McCain supported NAFTA. Find out why, and how his proposals would have impacted the U.S. economy.

President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policies
Ronald Reagan conceived of NAFTA as a way to compete with Europe. While he was President, he pushed a North American trade agreement, even while battling America's worst recession until the 2008 financial crisis. Find out more about the Reagan revolution, including its basis in supply-side economics.

NAFTA Pros and Cons
NAFTA is highly controversial. Weigh the pros vs the cons yourself.

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