Skip to Content

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

nafta flag

On January 1, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico (NAFTA) entered into force.

All remaining duties and quantitative restrictions were eliminated, as scheduled, on January 1, 2008.

NAFTA created the world's largest free trade area, which now links 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services.

Trade between the United States and its NAFTA partners has soared since the agreement entered into force.

U.S. goods and services trade with NAFTA totaled $1.2 trillion in 2012 (latest data available). Exports totaled $597 billion; Imports totaled $646 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with NAFTA was $49 billion in 2012.

The United States has $1.1 trillion in total (two ways) goods trade with NAFTA countries (Canada and Mexico) during 2013. Goods exports totaled $527 billion; Goods imports totaled $613 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with NAFTA was $86 billion in 2013.

Trade in services with NAFTA (exports and imports) totaled $134 billion in 2012 (latest data available). Services exports were $89 billion; Services imports were $45 billion. The U.S. services trade surplus with NAFTA was $44 billion in 2012.

Exports 

• The NAFTA countries (Canada and Mexico), were the top two purchasers of U.S. exports in 2013. (Canada $300.3 billion and Mexico $226.2 billion).

• U.S. goods exports to NAFTA in 2013 were $526.5 billion, up 3.5% ($18 billion) from 2012, and up 97% from 2003. It was up 271% from 1993 (Pre-NAFTA). U.S. exports to NAFTA accounted for 33.3% of overall U.S. exports in 2013.

• The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($83.8 billion), Vehicles (parts) ($73.3 billion), Electrical Machinery ($63.4 billion), Mineral Fuel and Oil ($47.7 billion), and Plastic ($28.3 billion).

• U.S. exports of agricultural products to NAFTA countries totaled $39.4 billion in 2013. Leading categories include: processed food ($2.6 billion), fresh fruit ($2.5 billion), beef and beef products ($2.1 billion), pork and pork products ($2.1 billion), dairy products ($2.0 billion), and fresh vegetables ($2.0 billion).

• U.S. exports of private commercial services* (i.e., excluding military and government) to NAFTA were $88.6 billion in 2012 (latest data available), up 5.4% ($4.5 billion) from 2011, and up 109% since 2002. It was up 223% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA).

Imports 

• The NAFTA countries were the second and third largest suppliers of goods imports to the United States in 2013. (Canada $332.1 billon, and Mexico $280.5 billion).

• U.S. goods imports from NAFTA totaled $612.5 billion in 2013, up 1.8% ($11 billion), from 2012, and up 70% from 2003. It was up 305% from 1993 (Pre-NAFTA). U.S. imports from NAFTA accounted for 27.0% of overall U.S. imports in 2013.

• The five largest categories in 2013 were Mineral Fuel and Oil (crude oil) ($144.2 billion), Vehicles ($115.3 billion), Electrical Machinery ($65.3 billion), Machinery ($62.4 billion), and Special Other (Returns) ($15.8).

• U.S. imports of agricultural products from NAFTA countries totaled $39.4 billion in 2013. Leading categories include: fresh vegetables ($5.8 billion), snack foods, (including chocolate) ($4.7 billion), fresh fruit (excluding bananas) ($3.3 billion), processed fruit and vegetables ($2.6 billion), and red meats, fresh/chilled/frozen ($2.4 billion).

• U.S. imports of private commercial services* (i.e., excluding military and government) were $44.9 billion in 2012 (latest data available), up 6.1% ($2.6 billion) from 2011, and up 52% since 2002. It was up 171% from 1993 (Pre-NAFTA).

Trade Balances 

• The U.S. goods trade deficit with NAFTA was $86.0 billion in 2013, a 7.5% decrease ($7 billion) over 2012. The U.S. goods trade deficit with NAFTA accounted for 12.5% of the overall U.S. goods trade deficit in 2013.

• The United States had a services trade surplus of $43.7 billion with NAFTA countries in 2012 (latest data available), up 4.6% from 2011.

Investment 

• U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in NAFTA Countries (stock) was $452.5 billion in 2012 (latest data available), up 7.1% from 2011.

• U.S. direct investment in NAFTA Countries is led by the nonbank holding companies, manufacturing, and finance/insurance sectors.

• NAFTA Countries FDI in the United States (stock) was $240.2 billion in 2012 (latest data available), up 7.3% from 2011.

• NAFTA countries direct investment in the U.S. is in the finance/insurance, banking, and manufacturing sectors.

• Sales of services in NAFTA by majority U.S-owned affiliates were $163.3 billion in 2011 (latest data available), while sales of services in the US by majority EU-owned firms were $79.5 billion.


NOTE: Refers to private services trade not including military sales, direct defense expenditures, and other miscellaneous U.S. government services.

Opportunities for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses in the Americas Region

At the NAFTA Free Trade Commission (FTC), in Mexico on January 10, the NAFTA Ministers discussed ways to help SMEs take advantage of the export opportunities that the NAFTA provides. One of the main challenges that small- and medium-sized businesses face is access to information. To address this, the countries released “Opportunities for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises in North America”, a publication designed to answer fundamental questions about starting to export.

Opportunities for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses in North America


At the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Commission (FTC) meeting in San Salvador on February 23, the CAFTA-DR partners discussed ways to help small businesses take better advantage of the job-creating export opportunities that the Agreement provides. The countries (the United States, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua) released a brochure entitled “Frequently Asked Questions About Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export in the CAFTA-DR Region”, a publication designed to answer basic questions for firms that are considering exporting for the first time and would like to find out more about the resources and export assistance that the CAFTA-DR governments provide. This brochure is available in both English and Spanish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export in the CAFTA-DR Region (English)

Frequently Asked Questions About Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export in the CAFTA-DR Region (Spanish)


The United States and Peru convened the second meeting of the Free Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) in Lima, Peru on July 14, 2011. At the meeting, officials received a report of the first meeting of the Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Working Group. The working group was established to enhance the ability of small businesses to capitalize on the benefits of the PTPA. The parties discussed the example of the U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model for helping small businesses to grow. The SME Working Group also released a brochure to raise awareness of opportunities for small businesses in both countries.

Frequently Asked Questions About Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export Under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (English)

Frequently Asked Questions About Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export Under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (Spanish)


The United States and Chile convened a meeting on August 4, 2011 to discuss the important role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in generating economic growth, exports, and local jobs in our respective economies, and to identify ways that small businesses can take greater advantage of the benefits of increased trade under the Agreement. The Parties discussed the Small Business Development Center Model (SBDC) and released a brochure for SMEs entitled “Frequently Asked Questions about Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export under the U.S.-Chile FTA.”

Frequently Asked Questions about Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export under the U.S.-Chile FTA (English)

Frequently Asked Questions about Opportunities for Small Businesses to Export under the U.S.-Chile FTA (Spanish)