The North American Free Trade Agreement or as its most commonly known NAFTA “is a comprehensive rules-based agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico”, that came into effect on January 1,1994. All three countries signed it in December of 1992; later on November of 1993 it was ratified by the United States congress. NAFTA was not only used in cutting down on tariffs between both countries but it also help deal with issues such as Transportation, Border Issues, and Environmental Issues between these two countries. NAFTA changed some tariffs immediately and within fifteen years other tariffs will fall to zero. NAFTA was not created to just lower tariffs it was also created to open protected sectors in agriculture, energy, automotive trade, and most importantly textiles. It also opened up the U.S. Mexico border to previously restricted areas of trade. “It set rules on government procurement and intellectual property”.
Now after it’s fourth year of existence it is apparent that it is good for Mexico and the United States. Because of NAFTA Mexico has been able to make significant changes in their economy, far more than the U.S. “The Mexican overall trade balance went from a $18.5 billion deficit it 1994 to a $7 billion surplus in 1995”. Even though American exports slipped $4 billion in 1995, the recovery of the Mexican economy in 1996, when the GDP grew 5.1%, American exports came round and grew to 20%, later to 35% thanks to NAFTA. Also because of NAFTA two way trade between the United States and Mexico has grown to 60% from 1993.
Although Mexico’s economy is making its first boom in sixteen years, it is still “economically small compared to the U.S”. Mexico’s economy has been compared to that of the size of Florida. Because of this all the hype about the loss of jobs to the U.S., especially California, have been taken over the top. According to the most recent information it was proved that NAFTA has had almost no effect on U.S. employment levels. At first when NAFTA came into effect U.S. employment levels did decrease, but within three years all employment went back up to normal. Some say that this in fact is not due to NAFTA, but to the continuing expansion of the U.S. economy.

Another aspect that has made Mexico’s economy boost is the Maquiladoras program. It began in 1995 as a side program of NAFTA, ”and set up a special customs regime in Mexico”. It allows certain corporations duty-free imports of raw materials, equipment, machinery, and replacement parts, into Mexico. This is done to attract manufacturing of goods in Mexico. “The U.S. tariff schedule provision known as 9802, formerly known as 806/807, greatly assisted the development of the Maquiladoras industry. This permitted U.S. goods to be exported to Mexico and face a duty only on the value added when the finished product is imported back into the United States”. In 1996 40% of all Mexican exports to the U.S. were from the Maquiladora program. Also the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce conceived a group named “Transformation 2000”, whom would inform and educate all manufactures on the Maquiladora programs by the year 2001”.
The Maquiladora program has also been an integral part in the rapid growth of the Mexico-U.S. border region. The U.S.-Mexico border separates four U.S. states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas) and six Mexican states (Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas). These are all called the twin cities, although the border politically separates them they share common air sheds and drainage basins. Seventy percent of all Maquiladoras are located in the border region of Mexico. “Over 1,600 Maquiladora plants in the border area employ over 510,000 workers, about half of which are located in the two biggest Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez”. There was a 13% growth in Maquiladora employment in the border region, within the interior of Mexico it was actually 28 %. At first most of the Maquiladora plants used very low skilled assembly workers but in the most recent years these plants have become more sophisticated and technologically advanced that a large number of Mexican engineers are being employed. “Much of the growth in the U.s. twin cities is directly related to the growth on