The NAFTA Secretariat is a unique organization established pursuant to Article 2002 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It administers the mechanisms specified under the NAFTA to resolve trade disputes between national industries and/or governments in a timely and impartial manner.
A similar administrative body, the Binational Secretariat, existed under the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement to administer the dispute settlement provisions of that Agreement. It consisted of two offices, known as national sections, one in Ottawa and one in Washington, D.C.
Under the NAFTA, pursuant to the Parties' (NAFTA governments') obligation to establish, permanent, national Section offices in each country, Canada and the United States simply renamed their existing national Sections to the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section and the United States Section, respectively, and Mexico established its own national Section. The NAFTA Secretariat is comprised of:
The national sections, which are "mirror-images" of each other, are each headed by a Secretary appointed by their respective government. The Parties are responsible for the costs of operating their national section of the Secretariat.