The Agreement Ended Many Trade Barriers Among
Maquiladoras (Mexican assembly plants that absorb imported components and produce goods for export) have become the emblem of trade in Mexico. They left the United States for Mexico, hence the debate about the loss of American jobs. Revenues in the maquiladora sector had increased by 15.5% since nafta in 1994.  Other sectors have also benefited from the free trade agreement and the share of non-cross-border exports to the United States has increased over the past five years [when?], while the share of exports from border states has declined. This has led to rapid growth in non-cross-border metropolitan areas such as Toluca, Leén and Puebla, all more populated than Tijuana, Ciudad Juérez and Reynosa. The kick-off of a North American free trade area began with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who made the idea part of his campaign by announcing his candidacy for president in November 1979.  Canada and the United States signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1988, and shortly thereafter, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to address U.S. President George H.W.
Bush to propose a similar agreement to make foreign investment after the Latin American debt crisis.  When the two leaders began negotiations, the Canadian government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney feared that the benefits that Canada had gained through the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement would be undermined by a bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico, and asked to be associated with the U.S.-Mexico talks.  It is impossible to isolate the effects of NAFTA on the broader economy. For example, it is difficult to say with certainty what percentage of the current U.S. trade deficit, which reached a record $65,677 million at the end of 2005, is directly attributable to NAFTA. It is also difficult to say what percentage of the 3.3 million manufacturing jobs that were lost in the United States between 1998 and 2004 is the result of NAFTA and what percentage would have been created without this trade agreement. It cannot even be said with certainty that the intensification of trade between NAFTA countries is exclusively the result of the trade agreement.