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NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is a comprehensive free trade accord inaugurated in 1994 among United States, Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA called for the immediate elimination of duties on about half of all U.S. goods shipped to Mexico and a gradual phase-out of other tariffs over a period of about 14 years. The debate on NAFTA was vigorous. Large corporations tended to support NAFTA, while U.S. and Canadian trade unions were against NAFTA; opposition to NAFTA also came from environmental and social advocacy groups. The NAFTA debate culminated in a memorable face-off on TV between (pro-NAFTA) Vice President Al Gore and (anti-NAFTA) third-party Presidential candidate Ross Perot. In the end, NAFTA passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 200, while the Senate tally was 61-38. The debate on the effects of NAFTA in the years after implementation was lively as well. Many observers agreed that it was difficult to isolate the impact of NAFTA from the numerous other factors that affect North American trade.

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