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Unveiling NAFTA and TPP: Promoting Free Trade and Economic Growth

Introduction to NAFTA and TPP

Trade agreements have become a crucial part of international trade as countries aim to boost their economies by eliminating trade barriers and promoting free trade. North American

Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are two such trade agreements that have been widely discussed in recent years.

In this article, we will explore the definition, provisions, impact, and criticisms of both NAFTA and TPP.

Definition and Background of NAFTA

NAFTA is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, signed in 1994, aimed at promoting trade and economic growth between the member countries. This agreement eliminated most tariffs on agricultural and manufactured goods traded between the three countries.

The elimination of trade barriers resulted in increased investment and job opportunities in all three countries.

However, the agreement faced criticism, mainly from labor unions and manufacturing workers who felt that it led to loss of jobs to Mexico as the country had a lower labor cost.

Additionally, environmentalists criticized NAFTA for poor regulations on environmental protection and labor rights. Over the years, the agreement faced several changes, including modification of labor standards, and the inclusion of environmental protections.

Definition and Background of TPP

TPP is a trade agreement that was signed between 12 countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia, in 2016. The goal of the agreement is to deepen economic ties between the member countries and promote trade by reducing tariffs and promoting free trade between the member countries.

Like NAFTA, TPP has faced significant criticism, especially in the United States, where it was considered a threat to American jobs. Upon taking office, President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement, resulting in postponement of the agreements implementation.

However, the remaining members continued and reestablished the partnership as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Provisions of NAFTA

Rules of Origin

NAFTA established specific guidelines for determining the origin of goods and services traded within the member countries. The goal is to prevent third countries from exporting their products to NAFTA countries after adding minor modifications and receiving benefits reserved for NAFTA members.

Customs Procedures

Customs procedures are simplified through the comparison of each NAFTA country’s customs systems.


NAFTA was created to attract investment in the member countries. It ensures that political risks associated with investments are minimized as investors are protected from potential expropriation.

Intellectual Property Rights

NAFTA lays down specific provisions that protect the intellectual property rights of investors. These include trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and other forms of intellectual property.

Dispute Settlement

NAFTA has set up a dispute settlement system to ensure an efficient and effective resolution of trade disputes between member countries.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

NAFTA sets out trade rules in relation to Sanitary and phytosanitary issues aimed at preventing human, animal, or plant infections from contaminated animals, plants, or products.

Government Procurement

NAFTA facilitates fair and open competition in government procurement contracting between the member countries.

Impact and Criticisms of NAFTA

Though NAFTA has been attributed with many positives, including job creation and economic growth, it also faced serious criticisms, which led to its reformation over the years. One of the significant concerns regarding NAFTA is the increase in the U.S trade deficit.

Critics argue that the elimination of tariffs reduced the cost of imports, rendering domestic industries noncompetitive, and thus negatively impacting jobs in the U.S.

Another criticism of NAFTA concerns Mexicos favoritism. While NAFTA has been credited with the creation of large-scale production operations in Mexico, critics argue that the agreement led to the growth of transnational corporations more than individuals and communities.

NAFTA has also been criticized for not providing specific provisions to protect the environment and workers rights. NAFTAs impact has led to the development of new environmental regulations implemented across the US, Canada, and Mexico.


In conclusion, NAFTA led to the development of inter-country production of goods and services that create job opportunities and increase business growth between the member countries. But, this agreement faced several challenges, including unfavorable trading conditions and inadequate environmental regulations.

The inclusion of fair trade laws can help minimize these challenges and help maximize NAFTA benefits. TPP was aimed at expanding free trade and eliminated tariffs between 12 member countries, including the US and Japan, and encountered serious resistance and controversy shortly before NAFTA.

However, as the worlds economic status evolves, these agreements remain significant and are essential for shaping our worlds economies now and in the years to come. TPP: Provisions and Effects

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a trade agreement that aimed to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade between 12 countries, including Japan, Canada, and Australia.

The agreement was unique for its focus on environmental and labor protection standards, as well as its investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. Here are the key provisions of the TPP and their impact on trade:

Reduction of Barriers to Trade

One of the primary goals of the TPP was to reduce or eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade between member countries. This included removing import taxes on products like beef, pork, and poultry.

With the reduction of trade barriers, member countries increased business operations and investment, resulting in economic growth and job creation. Investor-State

Dispute Settlement Mechanism

The TPP also featured a dispute settlement mechanism that allowed investors to resolve disputes with governments outside of national courts.

The mechanism was created to protect investors and ensure that they are treated fairly by the state they invest in. However, some critics of the TPP raised concerns that the dispute settlement mechanism could lead to the loss of democratic control over policy-making and give excessive power to multinational corporations.

Competition Policy

The TPP established competition policy provisions designed to prevent anti-competitive practices and promote fair competition between member countries. The policy prevented companies from engaging in monopolistic behavior and ensured that governments did not use state-owned enterprises to gain an unfair advantage in trade.

Free Trade

The TPP was designed to promote and expand free trade between member countries, which involved reducing trade barriers, creating a level playing field, and increasing economic opportunities. However, critics argued that free trade policies often lead to the centralization of wealth and resources among a small group of individuals and corporations, while smaller businesses are left behind.

Withdrawal of the U.S. from TPP and Creation of CPTPP

In 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP, citing that it did not benefit American workers and businesses. He also claimed that he believed in putting America first and preferred bilateral trade deals over multilateral ones.

While the U.S.’s withdrawal from the TPP may impact the dynamics of the agreement, other member countries moved to create the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The new agreement includes many of the same provisions as the original TPP, but excludes the United States.

The CPTPP was signed in March 2018, and by September 2019, all member countries had ratified it except for Canada, which was in the process of doing so. President Trumps decision to withdraw from the TPP potentially has significant geopolitical implications.

It might be seen as leaving a power vacuum in Asia, allowing China to fill that gap and potentially challenge the global influence of the United States.

Similarities between NAFTA and TPP

While the TPP and NAFTA have unique features and provisions, these trade agreements promote free trade and establish provisions to protect the environment and workers’ rights. Promotion of

Free Trade

Both agreements aimed to promote free trade, eliminate tariffs on goods and services traded among the member countries, and establish custom procedures.

NAFTA eliminated most tariffs on agricultural and manufactured goods traded among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The TPP went a step further and aimed to eliminate all tariffs on traded goods and services between member countries.

Environmental Protection and Labor Rights

NAFTA includes both the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). These agreements established frameworks to protect workers and the environment in North America, respectively.

Similarly, the TPP was praised for including environmental and labor protection standards such as banning forced labor, child labor, and discrimination in the workplace. The TPP also encouraged better working conditions and labor standards among member countries and helped to minimize the impact of multinational corporations on the environment.


Trade negotiations and agreements like NAFTA and TPP are complex processes that require cooperation, compromise, and careful consideration of trade-offs. Both NAFTA and TPP aim to reduce or eliminate trade barriers between member countries, encourage trade, and promote economic growth.

While both agreements have faced criticism, they have evolved and reformed to address issues such as labor rights, environmental protection, and investor-state dispute resolution. It is clear that trade agreements will continue to be significant as globalization grows in many parts of the world.

While some countries are moving away from multilateral agreements in favor of bilateral ones, the value lies in negotiating trade deals that can create mutually beneficial scenarios for all parties involved. Negotiating trade agreements is an essential task as countries look to maximize economic growth while taking care of their respective populations and the environment.

Differences between NAFTA and TPP

The North American

Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are two of the most noteworthy trade agreements in the world. While there are some similarities between the two agreements, there are also significant differences that should be noted.

Here are some of the essential differences between NAFTA and TPP:

Countries Involved

NAFTA is a trilateral trade agreement signed between Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 1994. The TPP, on the other hand, was a multilateral trade agreement signed between 12 countries in 2016.

The member countries included Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. These countries were located across the Asia-Pacific region, which made TPP distinct from NAFTA that only involves North American countries.

Economic Impact and Criticisms

NAFTA has significantly boosted the economies of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. NAFTAs removal of trade barriers helped the trade volume between member countries increase sevenfold.

However, NAFTA has faced criticism from labor unions in the U.S. who believe that it contributed to the loss of American jobs to Mexico due to lower labor costs. Similarly, the TPPs economic impact on the member countries varied.

According to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the TPP would lead to significant welfare gains for almost all of the member countries. However, the agreement was also criticized for its potential impact on foreign investment and domestic GDP and profitability in some countries.

Moreover, without America’s participation, the significance of the TPP was limited, causing it to face criticism over strategic and economic motivations. Overall, the TPP was a more ambitious agreement than NAFTA and aimed at promoting free trade across the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

The TPP aimed to create a new template for future multilateral trade agreements that reduce barriers to trade further.


Multilateral agreements such as NAFTA and TPP have faced their share of controversies over the years. Their economic development may be essential, but the preservation of stable, durable, and prosperous alliances is just as important.

NAFTA and TPP were significant agreements aimed at promotion of free trade, removal of tariffs, and creating job opportunities along with economic growth. NAFTA was focused on promoting trade within member countries in the North American region, whereas the TPP intended to promote free trade across entire Asia-Pacific region, representing some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

They faced differing levels of criticism but aimed to improve domestic living standards through increased business operations resulting from the removal of trade barriers. However, these agreements are not beyond improvement or challenge over time.

Ultimately, As with anything, history evaluates the success and impact of these trade deals on their respective economies. The list of benefits and grievances collected from North America, Asia-Pacific countries associated with NAFTA and TPP proves that multilateral agreements impact societies and industries in varying ways with differing outcomes.

In conclusion, NAFTA and TPP are two significant trade agreements that have shaped the global economy and trade relations among signatory countries. NAFTA focused on promoting trade within North America, while TPP aimed to foster free trade across the Asia-Pacific region.

Both agreements aimed to remove tariffs and increase economic opportunities. While they faced criticisms and challenges, these agreements demonstrate the complexity and importance of international trade and the need for ongoing evaluation and improvement.

The impact of these agreements is a reminder that economic alliances and trade agreements have wide-ranging consequences, and finding the right balance between prosperity, sustainability, and fairness is an ongoing task.

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