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Profile: North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement was a participant or observer in the following events:
The North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 3450) is voted on by the US House of Representatives and passes 234-200. [US Congress, 11/17/1993] It is later estimated that Congresspersons who voted in favor of H.R. 3450 received an average of $8,018 more in corporate PAC contributions than those who voted against. [Francia, 1/2001, pp. 98, 103]
US President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he says will “tear down trade barriers between” the US, Canada, and Mexico. [US President, 12/8/1993]
White supremacists, right-wing anti-government organizations, and others, including many members of the so-called “Patriot Movement” (see February 1992) are enraged over the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, they see NAFTA as “reflecting the growing power of a global elite, or New World Order” (see September 11, 1990). [Southern Poverty Law Center, 6/2001]
A 15-year period begins during which most trade barriers between the US, Canada, and Mexico will be dismantled in accordance with NAFTA. The New York Times comments: “The government has taken few steps, however, to prepare smaller and medium-sized companies, poor farmers, and inefficient industries for the new competition. Even after a wave of industrial restructuring that cost half a million Mexican jobs, worker re-training programs are almost nonexistent.” [New York Times, 1/1/1994]
Under NAFTA, Mexico reduces its protection of domestic corn growers. This leads to a massive influx of corn from the US, where its production is heavily subsidized. This has the effect of reducing the price of corn in Mexico by 70 percent and ruining the livelihoods of some 15 million Mexican farmers who depend on the crop for income. [Fanjul and Fraser, 8/2003, pp. 23 ]
The Mexican government, after weeks of negotiation with protesting farmers (see January 30, 2003), signs the National Rural Accord (also known as the National Agreement for the Countryside and the Development of Rural Society). The accord announces that the government will make “sweeping changes to rural infrastructure and state farm policy to modernize Mexico’s outdated agricultural system.” As part of the agreement, Mexico will also ask the US and Canada to allow for protection of Mexico’s rural economy, and review the possibility of implementing mechanisms against dumping and unfair competition. [Reuters, 4/28/2003; Fanjul and Fraser, 8/2003, pp. 23 ]
In response to a suggestion by Mexico that it will put tariffs on corn to protect domestic farmers from subsidized US corn (see April 28, 2003), the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Finance, Charles Grassley, writes a letter to Mexican officials stating: “Mexico has recently undertaken a number of actions against US agricultural products that undermine the spirit, if not the law, of NAFTA. Mexico’s continued pattern of not meeting its international trade negotiations is unacceptable.” [Fanjul and Fraser, 8/2003, pp. 23 ]
Senator Norm Coleman, chairman of the Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere subcommittee, holds a hearing in which he says that a “tough response” against Mexico would be “warranted” for “unilateral renegotiation of NAFTA.” Present at the hearing are Bush administration officials and leaders of agribusiness interest groups. Jim Quackenbush, board member of the National Pork Producers Council, complains of a Mexican anti-dumping case against US hog exports and claims his goods are often halted at the border for “alleged sanitary concerns.” He calls for the US to “use all available means” to keep Mexico’s market open to US agricultural goods. Allen Johnson, chief agriculture negotiator in the office of the US Trade Representative, says that the US will work to defend its interests and is ready to retaliate if Mexico does not accede to its demands. [US Congress, 5/20/2003 ; Star Tribune, 5/21/2003]
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