The North American Free Trade Agreement

Creating valuable opportunities for Canadian businesses like yours


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) represents one of the largest free-trade areas in the world, with some 455 million consumers. Of these, about 34 million live in Canada, 309 million in the United States and 112 million in Mexico. The agreement gives Canadian companies a competitive advantage in two of the world’s biggest economies, eliminating tariffs on virtually all goods traded between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. NAFTA, in conjunction with highly efficient border processes, supports the world’s first fully integrated continental supply chain.

Learn more about NAFTA and discover your next market today.

NAFTA Trade Relations

In 2011 merchandise trade between the NAFTA partners surpassed $1 trillion. Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, Canada-U.S. merchandise trade has more than doubled, while trade between Canada and Mexico has increased more than sixfold.

The NAFTA partners exchange about $2.7 billion in merchandise with each other every day. That’s about $114 million per hour. The combined GDP of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico was more than $17.8 trillion in 2011, up from about $10 trillion in 1993.

In 2011 Canada-U.S. two-way trade in goods and services was $716 billion, with close to $2 billion worth of goods and services crossing the border every day on average. Canada’s merchandise trade with Mexico surpassed $30 billion in 2011.

Opportunities for Canadian Companies in the U.S.

The U.S. and Canada enjoy the world’s most lucrative and longest-lasting trade relationship. Opportunities for Canadian exporters are particularly strong in:

  • agriculture and agri-food
  • information and communications technologies
  • life sciences (medical devices, health information technologies, pharmaceuticals)
  • environmental industries (water treatment, green building, renewable energy)
  • aerospace and defence
  • automotive
  • energy
  • consumer goods

Opportunities for Canadian Companies in Mexico

Opportunities for Canadian exporters are particularly strong in:

  • automobile and advanced manufacturing
  • agriculture and agri-food
  • mining and metals
  • clean technologies (water, waste-water treatment, renewable energy and bioenergy)
  • information and communications technologies

Investment

NAFTA establishes a framework of rules and processes that create favourable conditions for investors from each of the three countries, ensuring all NAFTA investors are accorded generally similar treatment throughout the trading bloc. Under the agreement, investors in each country are protected by reciprocal, legally binding rights and obligations, as well as an independent tribunal to resolve investment disputes.

“We actually opened our office in 2000... and since then we’ve actually grown our Mexico business five times,” says Rosalind Wilson, General Director of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited in Mexico and former president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Mexico. Read the full success story.

For more information about new business opportunities or how NAFTA can help your company in the United States or Mexico, check out market facts and reports for the United States or Mexico on the Trade Commissioner Service website or contact a trade commissioner.

Additional Information

Canada’s Relations with Mexico and the U.S.

Contact Us

If you have questions or comments about this free trade agreement, please contact Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada at:

Trade Policy and Negotiations Division I (TPE)
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa ON  K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-944-0757
Email: consultations@international.gc.ca