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NAFTA and Democracy

In November 1993, Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), despite widespread popular opposition. Several weeks before the 1993 vote, opponents of NAFTA had gathered a slim majority of the votes. Yet NAFTA ultimately passed. At the time numerous press reports documented deals - many unrelated to NAFTA - that the Clinton administration had made with individual members of Congress and groups of members to obtain their votes to pass NAFTA.

The legacy of broken promises on NAFTA performance: NAFTA threatened the safety of the nation's food supply, undermined the nation's environmental regulations, and subverted American democracy while it cost the U.S. good jobs.

Public Citizen has monitored the promises President Clinton made to congressional Representatives to push NAFTA passage to determine whether those promises were kept and whether the concerns underlying the deals were in fact addressed.

Many of the commitments that the Clinton administration made in 1993 in order to get NAFTA passed were never fulfilled. Many of the actions that the Clinton administration did take proved worthless for the parties they were supposed to help.

Depending on the country being considered for new trade agreements with the United States, different sectors of domestic industry may consider themselves to be particularly threatened. The outcomes of the deals granted to industries concerned about NAFTA should serve as a warning for those now seeking safeguards for sectors likely to be threatened by future trade agreements under the proposed new Fast Track authority.

Learn more about NAFTA's Chapter 11 foreign investment rules.

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