The objective of NAFTA was to remove barriers to trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The introduction of NAFTA on January 1, 1994, resulted in the immediate elimination of tariffs on more than half of Mexican exports to the United States and more than one-third of U.S. exports to Mexico. Within ten years of the implementation of the agreement, all U.S.-Mexican tariffs should be eliminated, with the exception of certain U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico, which were scheduled to expire within 15 years.  Most of the trade between the United States and Canada was already duty-free. NAFTA has also attempted to eliminate non-tariff barriers and protect the intellectual property rights of traded products. Proponents of NAFTA in the United States have stressed that the pact is a free trade agreement and not an economic agreement.  The free movement of goods, services and capital based therein did not extend to labour.
By proposing what no other similar agreement had attempted to open up to industrialized countries to “a great third world country” â€“ NAFTA renounced the establishment of a common social and employment policy. The regulation of the labour market and/or employment remained the exclusive responsibility of national governments.  Many critics of NAFTA saw the deal as a radical experiment by influential multinationals who wanted to increase their profits at the expense of the ordinary citizens of the countries concerned. Opposition groups have argued that the horizontal rules imposed by NAFTA could undermine local governments by preventing them from legislating or legislating to protect the public interest. .