NAFTA Timeline

Washington proposes a “North American Agreement”

November 13, 1979

While officially declaring his candidacy for President, Ronald Reagan proposes a “North American Agreement” which will produce “a North American continent in which the goods and people of the three countries will cross boundaries more freely.”

January 1981

President Ronald Reagan proposes a North American common market.


Canada and the US drawing closer together

September 4, 1984

Brian Mulroney (Conservative Party) is elected Prime Minister of Canada with the highest majority in his country’s history.

September 25, 1984

Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney meets President Reagan in Washington and promises closer relations with the US.

October 9, 1984

The US Congress adopts the Trade and Tariff Act, an omnibus trade act that notably extends the powers of the president to concede trade benefits and enter into bilateral free trade agreements. The Act would be passed on October 30, 1984.

September 26, 1985

Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announces that Canada will try to reach a free trade agreement with the US.

December 10, 1985

President Reagan officially informs Congress about his intention to negotiate a free trade agreement with Canada under the authority of trade promotion. Referred to as fast track, trade promotion authority is an accelerated legislative procedure which obliges the House of Representatives and the Senate to decide within 90 days whether or not to establish a trade trade unit. No amendments are permitted.


Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

May 1986

Simon Reisman, Chief negotiator for Canada, and Peter Murphy, the American negotiator, start negotiations.

October 3, 1987

Conclusion of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Washington.

January 2, 1988

Prime Minister Mulroney and President Reagan sign the FTA.

January 1, 1989

The FTA takes effect.


Mexico and the US drawing closer together

November 6, 1987

Signing of a framework agreement between the US and Mexico.

June 10, 1990

Presidents Bush and Salinas announce that they will begin discussions aimed at liberalizing trade between their countries.

August 21, 1990

President Salinas officially proposes to the US president the negotiation of a free trade agreement between Mexico and the US.


North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

February 5, 1991

Negotiations between the US and Mexico aimed at liberalizing trade between the two countries officially become trilateral at the request of the Canadian government.

April 7 to 10, 1991

Cooperation agreements are signed between Mexico and Canada covering taxation, cultural production and exports.

May 24, 1991

The American Senate endorses the extension of fast track authority in order to facilitate the negotiation of free trade with Mexico.

June 12, 1991

Start of trade negotiations between Canada, the US and Mexico.

April 4, 1992

Signing in Mexico by Canada and Mexico of a protocol agreement on cooperation projects regarding labour.

August 12, 1992

Signing of an agreement in principle on NAFTA.

September 17, 1992

Creation of a trilateral commission responsible for examining cooperation in the area of the environment.

October 7, 1992

Official signing of NAFTA by Michaël Wilson of Canada (minister), American ambassador Carla Hills and Mexican secretary Jaime Serra Puche, in San Antonio (Texas).

December 17, 1992

Official signing of NAFTA by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, US president George Bush, and Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, subject to its final approval by the federal Parliaments of the three countries.


Parallel Agreements

March 17 and 18, 1993

Start of tripartite discussions in Washington aimed at reaching subsidiary agreements covering labor and the environment.

September 14, 1993

Official signing of parallel agreements covering labor and the environment in the capitals of the three countries.

January 1, 1994

NAFTA and the two agreements on labor and the environment take effect.

November 16, 1994

Canada and Mexico sign a cooperation agreement regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


Mexican Peso Crisis

December 22, 1994

Mexican monetary authorities decide to let the Peso float. The US and Canada open a US$6 billion line of credit for Mexico.

January 3, 1995

Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo presents an emergency plan.

January 1995

President Clinton announces an aid plan for Mexico.

21 February, 1995

Signing in Washington of an agreement regarding the financial assistance given to Mexico. Mexico in turn promises to pay Mexican oil export revenue as a guarantee into an account at the Federal Reserve in New York.Signature à Washington d’une entente concernant l’aide financière apportée au Mexique. Au terme de celle-ci, le Mexique s’engage notamment à verser en garantie les revenus d’exportations mexicaines de pétrole dans un compte de la Réserve fédérale de New York.

February 28, 1995

Mexico announces the increase of its customs duties on a number of imports from countries with which it does not have a free trade agreement.

March 9, 1995

President Zedillo presents austerity measures. The plan envisages a 50% increase in value added taxes, a 10% reduction of government expenditure, a 35% increase in gas prices, a 20% increase in electricity prices and a 100% increase in transportation prices. The minimum wage is increased by 10%. The private sector can benefit from government assistance. The inter-bank rate that is reduced to 74% will be increased to 109% on March 15.

March 29, 1995

Statistical data on US foreign trade confirms the sharp increase in Mexican exports to the US.

April 10, 1995

The US dollar reaches its lowest level in history on the international market. It depreciated by 50% relative to the Japanese yen in only four years.


Chile and NAFTA

December 9 to 14, 1994

At the Miami Summit, the three signatories of NAFTA officially invite Chile to become a contractual party of the agreement.

February 9, 1995

Mickey Kantor, the US Foreign Trade representative, announces Washington’s intention to include the provisions of NAFTA regarding labor and the environment in negotiations with Chile.

June 7, 1995

First meeting of the ministers of Foreign Trade of Canada (Roy MacLaren), the US (Mickey Kantor), Mexico (Herminio Blanco) and Chile (Eduardo Aninat) to start negotiations.


Disagreements remain between the US Congress and the White House on the content of the free trade agreement with Chile. President Clinton does not succeed in renewing the fast track that permits him to conclude international trade agreements. He would be deprived of this tool during the two terms of his presidency. Chile tries to negotiate separate free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.

December 29, 1995

Chile and Canada commit to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement.

June 3, 1996

Chile and Canada start negotiating the reciprocal opening of markets in Santiago.

November 18, 1996

Signing in Ottawa of the Canada-Chile free trade agreement by Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada and Eduardo Frei, President of Chile. The agreement frees 80% of trade between the two countries. It is the first free trade agreement signed between Chile and a member of the G 7.

July 4, 1997

The Canada-Chile free trade agreement comes into effect.


The US presidency proposes applying NAFTA parity to Caribbean countries.

April 17, 1998

Signing in Santiago, Chile of the free trade agreement between Chile and Mexico by President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León of Mexico, and President Eduardo Frei of Chile.

August 1, 1999

The Chile-Mexico free trade agreement comes into effect.

November 27, 2000

Trade negotiations resume between the US and Chile for Chile’s possible entry into NAFTA.


A new North American agenda

July 2, 2000

Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN), is elected president of Mexico, thus ending the reign of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (RIP) that had held power for 71 years. Mr. Fox is sworn in on 1 December 2000.

4 July, 2000

Mexican president Vicente Fox proposes a 20 to 30 year timeline for the creation of a common North American market. President Fox’s “20/20 vision” as it is commonly called, includes the following:

  • a customs union
  • a common external tariff
  • greater coordination of policies
  • common monetary policies
  • free flow of labor
  • fiscal transfers for the development of poor Mexican regions

With the model of the European Fund in mind, President Fox suggests that US$10 to 30 billion be invested in NAFTA to support underdeveloped regions. The fund could be administered by an international financial institution such as the Inter-American Development Bank.

April 2001

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox meet during the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. They agree to establish the North American Energy Working Group (NAEWG) in order to give regional attention to energy issues and enhance trilateral cooperation. The Group is managed by the three federal Energy secretaries and ministry.


Post 9/11 agenda

September 11, 2001

As a result of the terrorist attacks, U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico shut down temporarily. Business leaders in all three countries worried that trade would come to a halt. Some called for the creation of a North America Security perimeter in order to establish a common economic and security zone.

December 12, 2001

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley sign the Smart Border Declaration and Associated 30-Point Action Plan to enhance the security of the shared border while facilitating the legitimate flow of people and goods. The Action Plan has four pillars: the secure flow of people, the secure flow of goods, secure infrastructure, and information. It notably includes shared customs data, a safe third-country agreement and harmonized commercial processing.

Tom et John

June 28, 2002

John Manley and Tom Ridge announce progress on the Smart Border Declaration, including “stepped up intelligence cooperation with Canada”, “common standards for using biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and eyes recognition, to confirm the identity of travelers”.

September 9, 2002

President Bush and Prime Minister Chrétien meet to discuss progress on the Smart Border Action Plan and ask that they be regularly updated on the work being done regarding border management.

December 5, 2002

The Safe Third Country Agreement is signed by Canadian and U.S. officials as part of the Smart Border Action Plan. It is meant to manage the flow of refugee claimants at the shared land border.

Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, persons seeking refugee protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in (United States or Canada). Therefore, refugee claimants arriving, for example, from the United States at the Canada-US land border are not allowed to pursue their refugee claims in Canada unless they qualify for an exception clause under the Safe Third Country Agreement.

December, 2002

The United States and Canada establish a bi-national planning group at the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). The group releases a report containing recommendations on how the U.S. and Canadian military can “work together more effectively to counter land-based and maritime threats.

January, 2003

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives headed by Tom D’Aquino launches the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative (NASPI) in response to an alleged “need for a comprehensive North American strategy integrating economic and security issues”. NASPI has five main elements, which include: Reinventing borders, Maximizing regulatory efficiencies, Negotiation of a comprehensive resource security pact, Reinvigorating the North American defence alliance, and Creating a new institutional framework.

April 2003

The CCCE sets up an “Action Group on North American Security and Prosperity,” which is comprised of 30 CEOs including former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

January 2004

NAFTA celebrates its tenth anniversary.

Avril 2001

October 2004

The Canada-Mexico Partnership (CMP) is launched during the President Vicente Fox’s visit to Ottawa.

November 1, 2004

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in association with the CCCE and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales create the independent Task Force on the Future of Noth America. The task force is a trilateral group charged with developing a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well being of citizens of all three countries.

December 29, 2004

The Safe Third Country Agreement comes into force.


The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Era

March, 2005

The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico sign the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America at the trilateral summit in Waco, Texas. Canada is signed on by Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The SPP is a commitment by Canada, the United States and Mexico to work together to build a safer and more economically dynamic North America. While respecting the sovereignty and unique heritage, culture and laws of each country, it outlines an agenda for greater cooperation in areas as diverse as security, transportation, environment and public health.

The Foreign Affairs Ministers have the mandate to manage North American relations between the three countries. The Public Safety Ministers lead the Security Agenda, while the Ministers of Industry lead the Prosperity Agenda. Working Groups (health, transportation, food and agriculture, business facilitation, financial services, E-commerce and information communication technologies, environment, energy, movement of goods, manufactured good and sectoral and regional competitiveness) guide the efforts of the many federal departments and agencies that contribute to the delivery of each priority.

March 23, 2005

The 40 Point Smart Regulation Plan is launched as part of the SPP agreement. Its mandate is to introduce some changes to the regulatory system in order to harmonize them.

construire une communauté nord-américaine

May, 2005

The Council on Foreign Relations Press publishes the report of the Independent Task Force on the future of North America, entitled:”Building a North American Community”

The Task Force salutes the announced “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” while proposing a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 as well as specific recommendations on how to achieve it.

July 2005

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) passes in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 217-215 vote.

October 2005

The first meeting of the North American Forum (different from NAFI), which brings together U.S., Canadian and Mexican government and business representatives to discuss issues related to continental economic and social integration, is held in Sonoma, California. The media is not invited and information pertaining to the meeting is not released to the public.

March 31, 2006

At the North American Summit in Cancun, the new Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with President Bush and President Fox release the Leaders’ Joint Statement. The statement presents six action points:

1) Establishment of a Trilateral Regulatory Cooperative Framework
2) Establishment of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC)
3) Provision for North American Emergency Management
4) Provision for Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza Management
5) Development of North American Energy Security
6) Assure Smart, Secure North American Borders.

Sommet de Cancun

August 15, 2006

The NACC meets in Washington, D.C. to hash out priority issues for the SPP. The business leaders decide that the U.S. commiittee of the NACC will deal with “regulatory convergence,” the Canadian one, housed by the CCCE, will deal with “border facilitation,” and the Mexican branch will handle “energy integration”.

February 23, 2007

The SPP Ministerial meeting is held in Ottawa, Canada, and attended by the Canadian Minister of Industry, the Mexican Secretary of the Economy and the U.S. Secretary of State. Members of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) are also invited.

August 20/21, 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President George W. Bush and President Felipe Calderon meet for the third North American summit in Montebello, Quebec. A significant outcome of the summit was the creation of a “regulatory cooperation framework”. Arctic sovereignty is also discussed. In addition, a news release announced progress concerning a continental plan to deal with flu pandemics, and an agreement on energy security and environmental protection.

Sommet MonteBello
Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP)
Canadian Government: Canada border services agency
North American Forum on Integration
Natural Resources Canada
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives CCCE (Official site)
Vive le
Center for Media and Democracy

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