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In 1984, Congress passed the Trade and Customs Act, which gave the president the power to negotiate free trade agreements. It only allowed Congress the option of approving or rejecting, and it could not change the negotiating points. Maquiladoras (Mexican assembly plants that absorb imported components and produce goods for export) have become the emblem of trade in Mexico. They moved from the United States to Mexico, hence the debate about losing American jobs. Revenues from the maquiladora sector have increased by 15.5% since the creation of NAFTA in 1994. [68] Other sectors have also benefited from the free trade agreement and the share of exports from non-border countries to the United States has increased over the past five years, while the share of exports from border countries has decreased. This has allowed for rapid growth in borderless metropolitan areas like Toluca, León and Puebla, all less populated than Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa. Analysts agree that NAFTA has opened up new opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. Every year, Mexican consumers spend more on American products than their counterparts in Japan and Europe, so the stakes are high for entrepreneurs. (Most studies on NAFTA focus on the impact of U.S.

business with Mexico. Critics feared that, generally speaking, low wages in Mexico would attract U.S. and Canadian companies, which would lead to a relocation of production to Mexico and a rapid decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Canada. . . .