While the effects of NAFTA will not be known for quite sometime, an early appraisal can be made (1) using an econometric decomposition of trade patterns with and without the agreement and (2) assessing NAFTA as a learning process. Results show that the Agreement helped increase Mexican imports from the U.S. when Mexican incomes were rising and helped prevent a further fall in imports when incomes were falling. As a learning process, the most promising aspect of the Agreement is reliance on tri-national civil society as the warrant of implementation of the clauses of the agreement and of each country's labor and environmental laws. This is inducing the active participation of a thickening web of corporatist and non-governmental organizations that cut across national boundaries. Political sustainability of the Agreement requires to deal not only with the transitory poverty created by economic adjustments, but also with the deeper problem of social exclusion from the benefits of globalization.


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