Former U.S. trade representatives from the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations talked about the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993, the trade deal aimed to pull together the economies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994. It created a free trade zone that reduced tariffs and encourage trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States. NAFTA has had a major impact on the three countries but the benefits of NAFTA have been heavily debated since its inception. This lesson looks at the history of the agreement, its benefits and drawbacks and ways to improve it.
Have the students answer the following warm-up question before beginning class.
Either explain or have the students define each of the following vocabulary words:
As a class, have the students view the following three videos and answer the questions listed below. Review the answers with the class. Students can also use the NAFTA Handout (Google Doc).
Video Clip- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (2:58)
Video Clip- The History of NAFTA (1:09)
Video Clip- North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act Signing (4:20)
Review the answers with the class to identify and address misconceptions.
Individually or as a class, students will view the video clips listed below and take notes on arguments for NAFTA, arguments against NAFTA and ways that NAFTA could have been improvement. They can use the chart on the NAFTA handout to organize their notes.
Video Clip- Goals and Outcomes of NAFTA (3:46)
Video Clip- Arizona Senator Jeff Flake on NAFTA (2:03)
Video Clip- NAFTA and Trade Deficits (3:22)
Video Clip- The Effects and Future of NAFTA (4:28)
Video Clip: Newt Gingrich on NAFTA
After viewing the videos on the costs and benefits of NAFTA, discuss the arguments for and against NAFTA. View the following video on the renegotiation of NAFTA and the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Based on this and the other videos in this lesson, have the students write an essay (or similar culminating activity) that answers the question below.
VIDEO CLIP: An Explanation of the Proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (3:44)
Letter to the Editor- Put yourself in the perspective of someone in either Mexico, Canada or the United States and write a letter to the editor about how NAFTA has impacted you. Include who you are and how specifically NAFTA has impacted your life.
Additional Writing Prompts-