Following diplomatic negotiations dating back to 1991 between the three nations, the leaders met in San Antonio, Texas, on December 17, 1992, to sign NAFTA. U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas, each responsible for spearheading and promoting the agreement, ceremonially signed it. The agreement then needed to be ratified by each nation's legislative or parliamentary branch.
Before the negotiations were finalized, Bill Clinton came into office in the U.S. and Kim Campbell in Canada, and before the agreement became law, Jean Chrétien had taken office in Canada.
The proposed Canada-U.S.trade agreement had been extremely controversial and divisive in Canada, and the 1988 Canadian election was fought almost exclusively on that issue. In that election more Canadians voted for anti-free trade parties (the Liberals and the New Democrats) but more seats in parliament were won by the pro-free trade Progressive Conservatives (PCs). Mulroney and the PCs had a parliamentary majority and were able to easily pass the Canada-U.S. FTA and NAFTA bills. However Mulroney himself had become deeply unpopular and resigned on June 25, 1993. He was replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister by Kim Campbell, who then led the PC party into the 1993 election where they were decimated by the Liberals under Jean Chrétien. Chrétien had campaigned on a promise to renegotiate or abrogate NAFTA, but instead negotiated the two supplemental agreements with the new U.S. Democratic president, and ideological ally, Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton had become president of the U.S. before the agreement came into force, and is seen here signing the U.S. implementation legislation.
In the U.S., Bush, who had worked to "fast track" the signing prior to the end of his term, ran out of time and had to pass the required ratification and signing into law to incoming president Bill Clinton. Prior to sending it to the House of Repr...