As a general rule, the benefits and obligations of trade agreements apply only to their signatories. Together, these agreements mean that about half of all goods entering the United States enter duty-free, according to the government. The average import duty on industrial products is 2%. The benefits of free trade were outlined in On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, published in 1817 by economist David Ricardo. Governments with free trade policies or agreements do not necessarily abandon import and export controls or eliminate all protectionist policies. In modern international trade, few free trade agreements lead to completely free trade. There are currently a number of free trade agreements in the United States. These include multi-nation agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which includes the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which includes most Central American nations. There are also separate trade agreements with nations, from Australia to Peru.
In the first two decades of the agreement, regional trade increased from about $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1 trillion in 2016. Critics are divided on the net impact on the U.S. economy, but some estimates put the net loss of domestic jobs at $15,000 a year as a result of the agreement. Trade pacts are often politically controversial because they can change economic practices and deepen interdependence with trading partners. Improving efficiency through „free trade“ is a common goal. Most governments support other trade agreements. The logic of formal trade agreements is that they reduce penalties for deviation from the rules set out in the agreement.  As a result, trade agreements make misunderstandings less likely and create confidence on both sides in the sanction of fraud; this increases the likelihood of long-term cooperation.  An international organization such as the IMF can further encourage cooperation by monitoring compliance with agreements and reporting violations.  It may be necessary to monitor international agencies to detect non-tariff barriers that are disguised attempts to create barriers to trade.  The United States has another multilateral regional trade agreement: the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).