NAFTA has not eliminated regulatory requirements for companies wishing to act internationally, such as rules of origin and documentation obligations, that determine whether certain products can be traded under NAFTA. The free trade agreement also provides for administrative, civil and criminal sanctions for companies that violate the laws or customs procedures of the three countries. Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States and the second largest export market for U.S. products. In 2018, Mexico was our third largest trading partner (after Canada and China) and the second largest export market. Total trade in goods and services totaled $678 billion and this trade directly and indirectly supports millions of jobs in the United States. In 2018, the United States sold $265 billion in U.S. products to Mexico and $34 billion in services for a total of $299 billion in U.S. sales to Mexico.

Mexico is the top or second largest export destination for 27 U.S. states. In a 60-minute interview in September 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump described NAFTA as “the worst trade deal ever approved in the United States”[121] and said that if elected, “he would either renegotiate or we would break it.” [122] [123] Juan Pablo Castaen [es], chairman of the trade group Consejo Coordinador Empresarial, expressed concern about the renegotiations and the desire to focus on the automotive industry. [124] A number of trade experts have stated that abandoning NAFTA would have a number of unintended consequences for the United States, including limited access to its key export markets, lower economic growth and higher prices for gasoline, cars, fruits and vegetables. [125] Members of the Mexican private initiative noted that many laws needed to be adapted by the U.S. Congress to eliminate NAFTA. Finally, this would give rise to complaints from the World Trade Organization. [124] The Washington Post found that a review of academic literature by the Congress Research Service concluded that “the overall net effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to be relatively modest, mainly because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP.” [63] The OBJECTIVE of NAFTA was to remove barriers to trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The implementation of NAFTA on January 1, 1994 resulted in the immediate removal of tariffs on more than half of Mexican exports to the United States and more than one-third of U.S. exports to Mexico. Within 10 years of the implementation of the agreement, all U.S.-Mexico tariffs should be eliminated, with the exception of some U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico, which are expected to expire within 15 years. [29] Most of the trade between the United States and Canada was already duty-free. NAFTA also aimed to remove non-tariff barriers and protect intellectual property rights on marketed products. A “secondary agreement” reached in August 1993 on the application of existing domestic labour law, the North American Convention on Labour Cooperation (NAALC) [39], was severely restricted.