NAFTA, Brexit, TPP, CETA: These acronyms have been thrown about in the media recently. They all have an impact on Canadian business. International trade agreements, however, are written in their own “lingo”…almost a distinct language.

Here you will find the conversation simplified using plain language. As the issues are hot, they will be explained here.

Where better to start than NAFTA. It’s all over the news with a tweet here and a column there. But separating the noise from reality has never been harder. Therefore, let’s start with the basics.


The agreement was signed in 1994 between Canada-US-Mexico. It makes it easier for goods (cars, staplers, etc) to cross the border. But, Mexico was kind of a late addition to the party. Canada and the US had their own trade agreement signed in 1988. NAFTA was essentially a “review” or “modernization” of that agreement by adding Mexico to the mix.

Now NAFTA is 25 years old. The world has changed. For example, I’m writing this very piece and sharing it via the internet. All 3 countries have agreed to “modernize” NAFTA, but their rhetoric is very different.

In my series “Rhetoric vs. Reality”, I will separate the loud noise coming from the politicians and media from the realities of the negotiation. I will explain what it means to Canadians in simple language.