Money Wise

Nafta Timeline


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.