The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was bold and controversial from the start. When first conceived, it was far from obvious that it would be possible given the circumstances of the times. This book presents an expert view of NAFTA from the perspective of economists, historians, and policy makers in the words of those who negotiated it and whose research evaluates it. The contributors describe NAFTA’s origins, from when the idea was born to its goals, detailing the give-and-take in the negotiations, the extensive consultation with business and labor groups in their respective countries, and the complex navigation of US congressional approval.
In the context of the fundamental economic and political transformation of North America, they discuss the trade, real wage, and welfare gains that NAFTA has produced for the United States, Mexico, and Canada, along with a review of the major energy markets within and among the three countries. They conclude with a discussion of the lessons from NAFTA for the future of both NAFTA itself and other trade agreements, stressing the fundamental importance of political leadership and informing voters and potentially ill-informed politicians, who hear most loudly from the opponents, about the benefits of trade liberalization.