The Barriers Come Tumbling Down

Negotiators prepare to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement

It survived snags over textiles, avocados and chickens and still faces a stiff test in Congress. After 14 months of almost nonstop and frequently contentious haggling, negotiators for the U.S., Canada and Mexico were poised to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would bind 363 million consumers into the world's largest trading zone with a combined gross domestic product of more than $6 trillion.

The pact's big winner will probably be Mexico, which lags behind its trading partners in industrial development. Economists say Mexico could gain 600,000 primarily industrial jobs by 1995 as the agreement rolls back tariffs and...

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