Summary of Multilateral Agreements Between Canada, Mexico and the United States

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Mexican President Carlos Salinas, and U.S. President George H.W. Bush, came into effect on January 1, 1994. NAFTA has generated economic growth and rising standards of living for the people of all three member countries. By strengthening the rules and procedures governing trade and investment throughout the continent, NAFTA has proved to be a solid foundation for building Canada’s prosperity.

The NAFTA superseded the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreements (CUFTA).  Negotiations towards the CUFTA began in 1986 and the agreement was in force by January 1, 1989.  The two nations agreed to a historic agreement that placed Canada and the United States at the forefront of trade liberalization. For more information, please see the information page on the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement.

North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation

The North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC) came into effect in January 1994. It is one of two parallel accords to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Agreement is administered by the Commission for Labour Cooperation, which consists of a Council of Ministers and a tri-national Secretariat, based in Washington D.C. Currently four provinces (Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edwards Island) are signatories to the NAALC through an Intergovernmental Agreement.

The Commission works in close cooperation with the National Administrative Offices (NAOs) established in each country to implement the Agreement and serve as the national point of contact. In Canada, the Office for Inter-American Labour Cooperation within the Labour Branch of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada acts as the Canadian NAO. The Canadian NAO also provides for the submission and receipt of public communications (complaints) on labour law matters arising in the territory of another Party and serves as the official review agency in Canada.

The text of the North American Agreement on Labour Co-operation is available on The Commission for Labour Cooperation’s website.

North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation

The second parallel accord is the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), which established the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) in 1994. The CEC is mandated to enhance regional environmental cooperation, reduce potential trade and environmental conflicts and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. It also facilitates cooperation and public participation in efforts to foster conservation, protection and enhancement of the North American environment. It consists of three principal components: the Council (Environment Ministers), the Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) and Secretariat, headquartered in Montreal.  It has an annual budget of US$9 million, with Canada, Mexico and U.S. contributing US$3 million per year, and is governed by consensus (not majority).

The text of the North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation is available on the CEC website.

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