Fifth Meeting of the NAFTA Commission
Joint Statement
Paris, France,
April 29, 1998

Today, the Commission reaffirmed its strong commitment to the NAFTA and its value in promoting trade, investment, and economic growth and, most importantly, jobs in the three countries. In this regard, we stressed the significant increase in trade and investment that has occurred. Since NAFTA's entry into force, trade in North Americas has grown nearly 65%. In 1993, trilateral trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States was less than 300 billion U.S. dollars. In 1997, trade between the NAFTA Parties reached almost 500 billion U.S. dollars.

These figures constitute a clear indication of NAFTA's success in its first four years of implementation. This trend will continue as NAFTA implementation opens new opportunities for trade and investment, bringing more benefits to companies, workers and consumers in North America. We reaffirmed our commitment to further promote public understanding of the benefits of the Agreement and continuing dialogue with our private sectors on an ongoing basis. We also noted the value of continuing cooperation with our respective labor and environment ministries.

As evidence of the opportunities that NAFTA has promoted, and on the basis of the recommendation of our private sector, we have agreed on a package covering hundreds of tariff lines that will be subject to accelerated tariff elimination, further opening opportunities to our private sectors and benefiting close to one billion U.S. dollars in NAFTA trade. (Illustrative list of product categories is attached). We acknowledged that the necessary modifications of our tariff schedules will be implemented by August 1, 1998, following the completion of domestic legal procedures in each country. We acknowledged that the tariff acceleration negotiations have brought about a very positive process of consultations and communication among the private sectors of the NAFTA countries. Governments will continue to encourage industry initiatives in this area in the future.

We acknowledged the progress achieved across the NAFTA work program, comprising the activities of more than twenty Committees and Working Groups, and a wide range of additional subsidiary bodies. We expressed our determination to build on the success achieved thus far, and instructed officials to undertake an operational review of the work program and to report back to Ministers before the end of 1998 on the structure, mandates and priorities of these bodies. In this regard, we further agreed that our Deputy Ministers will meet twice a year on a regular basis to provide high-level, ongoing oversight of the NAFTA work program, and that Canada would host the next meeting in the fall of 1998.

We discussed a range of trilateral trade issues, and we also discussed our shared interests in broader multilateral and regional trade liberalization, and noted the value of enhanced cooperation among the NAFTA parties in these wider initiatives. We acknowledged the central role of the WTO as the cornerstone of the global, rules-based trading system. We noted the importance of the WTO Ministerial Conference next month in building international understanding and support for further multilateral liberalization, and looked forward to the opportunity provided by the 50th anniversary of the GATT to highlight the benefits of liberalized trade. We welcomed the continuing process of trade liberalization in the hemisphere, and in particular the successful launch of negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) earlier this month in Santiago.

We agreed that Canada would host the next NAFTA Commission at Ministerial level on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the NAFTA in early 1999.

Tariff Acceleration -- items to be accelerated in one or more of the NAFTA countries are included within the following product categories:

Certain chemical products

Certain antibiotics

Certain pharmaceuticals

Certain medicaments with antibiotics and insulin


Certain wool yarn

Certain wool textiles

Certain cotton yarn

Woven cotton fabrics

Certain man-made fibers, yarns and woven fabrics

Sanitary textile towels and diapers

Wool felt

Certain non-woven fabrics

Cordage and ropes

Certain woven pile fabrics


Certain angles of iron or steel

Impregnated, coated or laminated fabrics

Surgical drapes


Certain flat rolled products of stainless steel

Certain steel wire


Certain watches

Certain toys

Source: International Trade Canada


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