DOING BUSINESS WITH NAFTA MEMBER STATES
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS
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In recent debates between the Democratic presidential contenders, Senators Barrack Obama and Hillary
Clinton, free trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been bludgeoned. Cries
went out to renegotiate the labor and environmental provisions of the Agreement. However, trade and other
economic statistics reveal that the criticisms of NAFTA are unfounded.

On the implementation of NAFTA on January 1, 1994, the United States, Canada, and Mexico agreed to  
work to eliminate trade barriers, promote conditions for free trade, increase investment opportunities, and
protect intellectual property rights. In a fact sheet issued in March 2008, the Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative (www.ustr.gov) countered the myths with figures, demonstrating that NAFTA has achieved
its core goals of trade and investment expansion.

Based on statistics for the period 1993 to 2007, trade among NAFTA members more than tripled from $297
billion to $930 billion. Business investment in the USA soared 117 percent above the 45 percent increase for
the preceding fourteen-year period. Contrary to the allegations that NAFTA has robbed U.S. workers of jobs,
the figures reveal that employment increased 24 percent from 110.8 million to 137.6 million people. In 2007,
manufacturing exports peaked at $982 billion. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico accounted for 37
percent of the U.S. total growth. Mexico is the top export destination for U.S. beef, rice, soybean meal, corn
sweeteners, apples, and dry edible beans. It is the second export market for corn, soybeans and oils, and
the third largest for pork, poultry, eggs and cotton.

For Guyanese-Americans seeking to expand the market of their products to Canada or Mexico, the U.S.
Government Export Portal (www.export.gov) provides information on the ways that U.S. enterprises can
benefit from NAFTA. All qualifying products for export to Canada and almost all qualifying products to
Mexico are now duty-free. To qualify, U.S. products must contain only NAFTA components. When foreign
components are used, they must undergo substantial processing in the U.S. to meet NAFTA requirements.
Guidelines are available on the portal to determine if your product qualifies for the NAFTA preferential tariff.

Registration is required to access the NAFTA Certificate of Origin Interactive Tool provided by the
Export.gov portal. A blank copy of the NAFTA Certificate of Origin with instructions for completion and a
Continuation Sheet—issued by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security—is accessible for perusal. Six preference criteria, numbered A to F, define the origin of
goods for consideration by customs officials at the ports of origin and destination.

On their website, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (www.cpb.gov) offers a guide to NAFTA customs
regulations. This guide covers such issues as appeals, claiming preferential treatment, commercial samples,
country of origin marking, drawback, duty deferral, duties and fees, intellectual property rights, laboratory
standards, packaging, penalties, temporary importations, transshipment, and much more.    

For more information, listen to Webinar held on February 27, 2008 by International Trade Specialist of the
Trade Information Center, JoAnn Queen on
Understanding the North American Free Trade Agreement (see
Footnote 1
).


Footnote:
  1. Transcript of Webinar available at http://export.gov/webinars/eg_main_020320.asp (updated 28 January 2014).

Article published in the Guyana Journal, Guyana Journal Publication, Inc., New York, USA, April 2008, p. 12..
Reprinted with permission.
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