In response, Salinas and his closest advisers decided to turn to US President George H.W. Bush to formally propose a free trade agreement with the US. Salinas hoped not only to attract new investment, but also to legitimize the rule of his party, which had been undermined by the economic crisis and the events of the 1988 elections. The proposed deal complemented the Bush administration`s trade goals. Trade negotiations at GATT were at a standstill and European countries increasingly acted among themselves and were therefore less interested in trade with the United States. Therefore, an agreement with Mexico (and Canada) was seen as a way to advance U.S. goals for further liberalization. Economist Paul Krugman argued that U.S. interest in the deal was both political and economic, with the U.S. having an interest in supporting the ruling party`s power in Mexico in order to prevent political instability on its southern border. The Canadian government quickly restored trade by promoting a 30-point agreement between the United States and Canada on smart borders, signed by both countries in December 2001.

Shortly thereafter, in March 2002, a similar but more limited action plan for a border partnership between the United States and Mexico was signed. However, the international transport of goods and passengers has remained limited by counter-terrorism measures taken by the US government. Canada and the U.S. had already dramatically reduced their tariffs, so the main impact of NAFTA`s removal of trade barriers on Mexico.