In 1994, the United States, Mexico and Canada, with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), created the world`s largest free trade region, which generated economic growth and helped improve the living standards of the people of the three member countries. By strengthening trade and investment rules, this agreement has proven to be a solid foundation for building Canada`s prosperity and has provided a valuable example of the benefits of trade liberalization for the rest of the world. The new Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement will strengthen Canada`s strong economic ties with the United States and Mexico. According to Chad P. Bown (Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics), it is unlikely that a renegotiated NAFTA, which would restore barriers to trade, will help workers who have lost their jobs, regardless of their cause, to use new employment opportunities.”  The impetus for a North American free trade area began with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who made the idea part of his campaign by announcing his candidacy for president in November 1979.  Canada and the United States signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1988, and shortly thereafter, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to address U.S. President George H.W. Bush to propose a similar agreement to make foreign investment after the Latin American debt crisis.  When the two leaders began negotiations, the Canadian government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney feared that the benefits that Canada had gained through the Canada-U.S.
free trade agreement would be undermined by a bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico, and asked to be associated with the U.S.-Mexico talks.  NAFTA has long been a political objective. In 2008, then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama responded to widespread trade skepticism within the Democratic base by promising to renegotiate NAFTA to incorporate stricter labor and environmental standards. The Obama administration tried to address NAFTA issues during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a massive trade agreement with 11 other countries, including Canada and Mexico. The TPP was deeply unpopular – Hillary Clinton ultimately opposed the deal during her 2016 presidential bid – and President Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP in one of his first official acts. NAFTA was the largest free trade agreement in the world when it was established on January 1, 1994. NAFTA was the first time that two industrialized countries had signed a trade agreement with an emerging country. Neither the worst fears of Canadian trade opponents – that open trade would erode the country`s manufacturing sector – nor the highest hopes of NAFTA proponents – that this would lead to a rapid increase in productivity – have been realized. Employment in the Canadian manufacturing sector remained stable, but the productivity gap between Canadian and U.S. firms was maintained.