About NAFTA

The NAFTA Secretariat, comprised of a Canadian Section, a Mexican Section and a United States Section, is responsible for the administration of the dispute settlement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Overview
The NAFTA Secretariat is a unique organization established pursuant to Article 2002 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It administers the mechanisms specified under the NAFTA to resolve trade disputes between national industries and/or governments in a timely and impartial manner. A similar administrative body, the Binational Secretariat, existed under the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement to administer the dispute settlement provisions of that Agreement. It consisted of two offices, known as national sections, one in Ottawa and one in Washington, D.C. Under the NAFTA, pursuant to the Parties' (NAFTA governments') obligation to establish, permanent, national Section offices in each country, Canada and the United States simply renamed their existing national Sections to the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section and the United States Section, respectively, and Mexico established its own national Section. The NAFTA Secretariat is comprised of: the Canadian Section located in Ottawa; the Mexican Section located in Mexico City; and the United States Section located in Washington, D.C. The national Sections, which are "mirror-images" of each other, are each headed by a Secretary appointed by their respective government. The Parties are responsible for the costs of operating their national section of the Secretariat. 1. What is the NAFTA? The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a regional agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of the United Mexican States and the Government of the United States of America to implement a free trade area. Article 102 of the NAFTA states that: "[t]he objectives of this Agreement, as elaborated more specifically through its principles and rules, including national treatment, most-favoured-nation treatment and transparency, are to: a. eliminate barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the territories of the Parties; b. promote conditions of fair competition in the free trade area; c. increase substantially investment opportunities in the territories of the Parties; d. provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in each Party's territory; e. create effective procedures for the implementation and application of this Agreement, for its joint administration and for the resolution of disputes; and f. establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits of this Agreement."

The Parties endeavour to fully implement these objectives by 2008.

2.

What is the NAFTA Secretariat? The NAFTA Secretariat is an independent agency that is responsible for the impartial administration of the dispute settlement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It has a Canadian, a Mexican, and a United States Section, each headed by a national Secretary, and with offices in each national capital. The Secretariat is accountable to the NAFTA Free Trade Commission, which comprises the ministers responsible for international trade in the three NAFTA partner countries. For more information on the Secretariat's mandate.

3.

When was the NAFTA signed? The NAFTA was signed at: Ottawa, on the 11th day and the 17th day of December 1992, Mexico, D.F., on the 14th day and the 17th day of December 1992, Washington, D.C., on the 8th day and the 17th day of December 1992.

4.

When Did the NAFTA enter into force? The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States and Mexico entered into force on January 1, 1994.

5.

What is dumping? Dumping is the sale of goods in foreign markets at prices below those charged for comparable sales in the home market or that are below the cost of producing the goods.

6.

What is antidumping ("AD")? An antidumping duty is a special levy imposed on imported merchandise to protect an affected domestic industry from injury caused by sale of dumped goods in the importing country.

7.

What is subsidy? Generally, subsidy occurs when imported goods benefit from foreign government financial assistance. Examples of subsidies include: loans at preferential rates, grants, tax incentives, or a provision of goods or services by a government at prices below market levels.

8.

What is a countervailing duty ("CVD")? A countervailing duty is a special duty imposed on imported merchandise to protect a domestic industry from injury caused by subsidized imports from other countries.

9.

What is injury? Injury is caused by dumped or subsidized imports resulting in lost sales, reduced prices, lost market share, decreased profits, and other such difficulties for the injured industry.

10. Who may complain about dumped or subsidized goods? Injury is caused by dumped or subsidized imports resulting in lost sales, reduced prices, lost market share, decreased profits, and other such difficulties for the injured industry.

Objectives
1. The objectives of this Agreement, as elaborated more specifically through its principles and rules, including national treatment, most-favored-nation treatment and transparency are to: (a) eliminate barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross border movement of, goods and services between the territories of the Parties; (b) promote conditions of fair competition in the free trade area; (c) increase substantially investment opportunities in their territories; (d) provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in each Party's territory; (e) create effective procedures for the implementation and application of this Agreement, and for its joint administration and the resolution of disputes; and (f) establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits of this Agreement. 2. The Parties shall interpret and apply the provisions of this Agreement in the light of its objectives set out in paragraph 1 and in accordance with applicable rules of international law. Entry into Force This Agreement shall enter into force on January 1, 1994, upon an exchange of written notifications certifying the completion of necessary legal procedures. Withdrawal A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties. If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties.

Accession 1. Any country or group of countries may accede to this Agreement subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed between such country or countries and the Commission and following approval in accordance with the applicable approval procedures of each country. 2. This Agreement shall not apply as between any Party and any acceding country or group of countries if, at the time of accession, either does not consent to such application.