NAFTA had three key advantages. U.S. food prices were lower due to duty-free imports from Mexico. Oil imported from Canada and Mexico prevented gas prices from rising. NAFTA has also increased trade and economic growth for all three countries. All these agreements together still do not add up to free trade in its laissez-faire form. Amerie special interest groups have successfully imposed trade restrictions on hundreds of imports, including steel, sugar, cars, milk, tuna, beef and denim. A free trade agreement is a pact between two or more nations to reduce import and export barriers between them. Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders without customs duties, quotas, subsidies or state prohibitions hindering their trade. Emerging countries are afraid of trade agreements with developed countries. They fear that the power imbalance will create a unilateral advantage for the developed nation.
Gatt also allows free trade areas (FTA), such as the European Free Trade Area, composed mainly of Scandinavian countries. Members of free trade agreements eliminate tariffs on trade with each other, but retain autonomy in setting their tariffs with non-members. Fifth, all NAFTA countries were required to respect patents, trademarks and copyrights. At the same time, the agreement ensured that these intellectual property rights did not harm trade. Few topics separate economists from the general public as much as free trade. The research findings indicate that economists at U.S. university faculties are seven times more likely to support free trade policy than the general public. In fact, the American economist Milton Friedman said, "The economic profession almost agreed on the desire for free trade." The exception for the customs union was partly directed towards the creation of the European Economic Community (EC) in 1958. The COMMUNITY, originally made up of six European countries, is now known as the European Union (EU) and has twenty-seven European countries. The EU has gone beyond simply reducing barriers to trade between Member States and creating a customs union.