"As of Jan. 1, 2008, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is now fully implemented, opening an historic new chapter in one of the most successful trade agreements in our history. Since its inception in 1994, NAFTA has been a remarkable success story for all three partners. It has contributed to significant increases in agricultural trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico and has benefited farmers, ranchers and consumers throughout North America.
"In 1994, our combined agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $10.1 billion. They are expected to reach $28 billion in 2008. Since the agreement's implementation, two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Canada has risen from $10.4 billion to $30.4 billion. Between the United States and Mexico, this trade has risen from $5.9 billion to $24 billion.
"When talking about NAFTA, however, the significance of the agreement goes far beyond the trade numbers themselves. NAFTA has served as a model and foundation for our ongoing efforts to advance the objective of trade liberalization. In this hemisphere, the positive lessons from NAFTA have helped facilitate the move toward the free flow of agricultural products between an ever expanding number of countries. Our recently concluded trade agreements with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, and, pending Congressional approval, Colombia and Panama, will strengthen democratic institutions, strip away barriers to trade, eliminate tariffs, open markets, and promote investment, economic growth and opportunity.
"With the full implementation of NAFTA, the last remaining trade restrictions on a handful of agricultural commodities such as U.S. exports to Mexico of corn, dry edible beans, nonfat dry milk and high fructose corn syrup and Mexican exports to the United States of sugar and certain horticultural products are now removed. We will continue to work with Mexico to build on the successes achieved to date. Since 2005, the United States has invested nearly $20 million in programs and technical exchanges to assist Mexico in addressing production, distribution and marketing-related challenges associated with the transition to free and open trade.
"We look forward to working with our partners in Mexico and Canada to find new and creative ways to promote agricultural trade and strengthen our regional competitiveness. Our close collaboration and strong partnership are essential to build on the successes already achieved through NAFTA and to expand global trade opportunities for all our citizens."
USDA Release No. 0001.08
FAS PR 0001-08
USDA Contact: Keith Williams (202)720-4623