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Archived Articles on International Trade Agreements


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The Ghost of NAFTA Past: A Decade of Bad Results (November 29, 2005)

Negotiations about the Andean Free Trade Agreement and the Southern African Customs Union collapsed. Rich and poor countries will have difficultly in reaching an agreement at the World Trade Organization's conference in Hong Kong. As the author points out, the neoliberal model is facing a crisis. After decades, poor people are still waiting to see the benefits of the past decades' privatization and liberalization policies. (Public Citizen)

Leaders Agree to Disagree on FTAA (November 5, 2005)

At the fourth summit of the Americas, leaders of all North and Latin American countries except Cuba gathered in Argentina to discuss job creation and poverty reduction. While the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was not formally on the agenda, the meeting ended in a deadlock over the future of the agreement. The US and 28 other countries supported the free trade agreement, while Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay argued that the agreement must deal with agricultural subsidies and the "different levels of development and size of the economies" in the countries of the Americas. (Inter Press Service)

The Price of Going to Market (September 19, 2005)

A decade ago, Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to its supporters, NAFTA was supposed to eliminate poverty and usher Mexicans into the "First World." Ten years later, Mexico still suffers from poverty and unemployment. This article analyzes the reasons for NAFTA's failure and warns poor countries to consider Mexico's experience when negotiating free trade agreements with the US. (International Relations Center Americas Program)

Big Pharma's Free Ride (August 12, 2005)

In 2004, Guatemala changed a law that allowed generic companies to brand name data in order to develop and bring more affordable medicines to the market. This article looks at the CAFTA agreement and how pharmaceutical companies are using free trade deals to protect their patents, and, at the same time, they are denying poor people access to health care. (

South America's Mining Wars Heat Up (June 28, 2005)

A new Latin American mining rush is underway due to rising global metal prices. As transnational mining companies become more aggressive in their pursuit of profits, local populations are fighting harder to protect their natural resources. The proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) contains an expanded investor-state clause, which could offset populist victories by allowing transnational corporations to sue poor nations for lost economic opportunity. If CAFTA is ratified, governments will have to face millions of dollars in corporate lawsuits in order to protect their ecosystems, people, and resources. (AlterNet)

African Leaders Complain of Red Tape in Deal With US (June 14, 2005)

The US enacted the controversial African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000, claiming to promote industry in poor African nations. In order to qualify for AGOA status, poor nations have to jump through all the right hoops, including privatization of all public assets and the creation of a US-style legal system. Rather than decreasing poverty or promoting wealth, the trade deal, which eliminates most US trade barriers on African goods such as textiles and clothing, has instead resulted in headaches and frustration. (Inter Press Service)

Yes to Democracy, No to Free Trade (May 31, 2005)

One year after the signing of DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement), the US congress still has not approved the agreement. Organizations throughout North and Central America oppose the deal, arguing that the current trade policy only benefits US corporate interests. Although the Bush administration is traveling the country promoting this agreement, opponents need merely to look to the broken promises of NAFTA as an example of the failure of free trade agreements, and free trade, to "benefit everyone." (AlterNet)

Protectionism And Free Trade (May 31, 2005)

This article highlights the hidden effects of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), focusing on how it will affect US and Central American laborers. While the Bush administration insists that increased trade will benefit everyone, the issue remains: what kind of trade is the Bush administration promoting, and for whose benefit? The concern is not free trade versus protectionism, but "smart trade" versus "polarizing trade." (TomPaine)

US Moves to Limit Imports from China (May 14, 2005)

Following a dramatic surge in apparel imports from China, the US has decided to reintroduce quotas on Chinese-made cotton shirts, trousers and underwear. The increase in imports occurred after the expiration of the so-called Multi-Fiber Arrangement, which set quotas on global textile trade. Many trade specialists argue that the Bush administration is trying to win support for the proposed Central American Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by setting a precedent and acting swiftly against imports that threaten textile jobs in the US. (New York Times)

AIDS Patients See Life, Death Issues in Trade Pact (April 22, 2005)

Public health experts fear that thousands of chronically ill Central Americans would suffer if the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) comes into force. By imposing even tighter regulations on medicine patents than existing World Trade Organization rules do, the proposed trade pact would drive up drug prices and make them inaccessible for people who suffer from chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS. (Los Angeles Times)

CAFTA Falls Short on Economic Arguments (April 16, 2005)

Proponents of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) frequently use the label "free trade" as a tool to gain more support for the pending trade pact. But according to this Center for Economic Policy Research column, the proposed agreement will not only lower some trade barriers; it will also create new ones. CAFTA will make it more difficult for Central American countries to gain access to affordable medicines. Contrary to proponents' claims, it will also do little to boost economic development in poor countries or correct the gaping imbalances in the US current accounts, the author argues.

The Real Record on Workers' Rights in Central America (April 2005)

This American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) report criticizes the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement for failing to protect workers' rights. The agreement allows governments to maintain labor laws that are far below the International Labor Organization standards and provides no mechanism to enforce existing legislation. In its current form, the agreement may boost corporate profits, but "leave workers and communities out in the cold," the report says.

A Bad Deal on Free Trade (March 21, 2005)

The proposed Central American Trade Agreement CAFTA "will do nothing to pull people out of poverty in Central America, and it has the potential to plunge workers further into exploitation," warns this Boston Globe op-ed piece. Instead of setting clear standards for labor rights, the proposed deal only requires governments to enforce their current labor laws – the same laws that the US State Department and human rights organizations have frequently criticized for allowing companies to abuse their workers.

Fool Me Twice? (March, 2005)

The US Chamber of Commerce uses deliberately exaggerated projections about new jobs and economic gains in its attempts to promote the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), says this Public Citizen report. A decade ago, proponents of the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA promised the US would gain 170,000 new jobs every year, but in reality hundreds of thousands of jobs have disappeared as a result of the agreement.

Not a Drop to Drink (February 25, 2005)

The struggle against water privatization continues in Bolivia. In 1997, the World Bank forced the country to privatize its water resources, resulting in violent protest and the deaths of 34 demonstrators. Today, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) poses a new threat to Bolivia's natural resources—under FTAA's investor-state provision, corporations can sue states if they feel they have lost out on an investment opportunity. American Prospect reports that as global freshwater resources become scarcer, trade agreements are encroaching on the dwindling reserve, turning a once immeasurable resource into a limited commodity to be "taken by force." (American Prospect)

The "Green" Promises of CAFTA (February 17, 2005)

Governments praise the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement's environmental provisions that would create an Environmental Affairs Council for regional monitoring, but leave it up to state parties to establish their own levels of environmental protection. Local NGOs, however, are not unanimous: some think the environmental clauses are pure rhetoric, while others regard their mere existence as a sign of progress. (Inter Press Service)

Why CAFTA Can't Save Central America from the Textile Quota Expiration (January 2005)

Supporters of market liberalization have suggested that the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) would help the Central American garment industry fight competition from China. According to this discussion paper from International Relations Center, however, Chinese manufacturers' cost advantages, productivity and skill levels are so overwhelming that a trade agreement and geographical proximity to the US would make little difference for Central American countries.



Why Say No to FTAA (December 17, 2004)

Because of neoliberal economic policies, the Colombian external debt skyrocketed, national trade accounts went into deficit and the agricultural sector lost 150,000 jobs in the early 1990s. According to this ZNet article, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas would bring more of the same to remaining businesses and farmers.

The Toxic Border (December 2004)

This article highlights the violation of labor rights and environmental protection standards in Mexico after the country's entry into the North American Free Trade Agreement and argues against future expansions of the agreement. The author points out that corporate-defined free trade runs contrary to expanded labor and environmental standards, as its prime focus is "creating conditions favorable to investment." (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Asean Signs Historic Deal with China (November 29, 2004)

A new trade pact between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China represents a move towards a two billion person pan-Asian market, which according to the Guardian could "rival the EU and the US." In addition to the establishment of a free trade zone by 2010, the pact calls for military and security cooperation, tourism promotion and the creation of early-warning systems for infectious diseases.

Hemispheric Trade Zone Stumbles (November 23, 2004)

Former President Bill Clinton's launching of a "Free Trade Area of the Americas," a 34-country hemispheric single market stretching from Alaska to Argentina, has stalled. Instead, the US and Latin American countries have increasingly turned to bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements. The Christian Science Monitor explains that since 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the schism in economic ideologies between North and South America has widened.

The US Andean Free Trade Agreement Chokes Along (November 2, 2004)

In 2003, the US Trade Representative's (USTR) Office launched negotiations with Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to establish a US-Andean Free Trade Agreement. While the USTR push towards a conclusion of the agreement in January 2005, this article raises concerns that last century's liberalization of markets has decreased rather than increased growth rates for the Andean countries. (Americas Program)

US to Renew Trade Focus On Latin America (October 11, 2004)

The Wall Street Journal examines the political challenges the next US administration faces in establishing a hemispheric free trade zone. But while politicians and neo-liberal groups from the hemisphere push for the ratification of free trade agreements, others raise opposition due to justifiable doubts about the value of free trade.

Trading Away the Environment? (September 23, 2004)

This article argues for stronger environmental standards in US trade agreements, claiming that the environmental costs of e.g. the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) exceed the economic gains. Environmental degradation in Mexico not only dwarfs Mexico's economic growth but also pressures the US market to produce "environmentally destructive agricultural practices." (San Francisco Chronicle)

CAFTA: A Topic for Women (June 13, 2004)

"All trade agreements negotiated by the Bush administration have ignored the internationally recognized right to nondiscrimination in the workplace" and have failed to protect labor rights. Such injustices are increasingly relevant for female employees, who are consistently subjected to gender discrimination. Without additional modifications, CAFTA will further entrench this precedent of ignoring human rights in trade agreements. (Human Rights Watch)

Women, Just Trade, and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (May 2004)

The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is yet another example of a trade agreement that will fail to bring any prosperity to people living in poverty. This article focuses on the gender impacts of CAFTA. (Center of Concern)

Competition or Massacre? Central American Farmers' Dismal Prospects under CAFTA (April 2004)

If implemented, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will prove disastrous for the Central American region. Already struggling to compete with subsidized US imports, many small and medium size farms will not survive the increased competition from large US transnational corporations. (Multinational Monitor)

CAFTA's Weak Labor Rights Protections: Why the Present Accord Should be Opposed (March 2004)

This Human Rights Watch briefing paper states that the finalized version of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) "fails to require compliance with even the most basic internationally recognized labor rights norms". The paper further argues that the participating governments need to re-draft CAFTA so that parties have more incentive to strengthen their poor labor laws and include overall better protection for workers' human rights.

The Trouble with CAFTA (February 3, 2004)

The agreement reached on a Central American Free Trade Area (CAFTA) will represent a clear blow to poor and working people in the Americas, argues Mark Engler. The final decision to ratify the agreement still depends on a vote in the US Congress. Ultimately, CAFTA could mark "a turning point for critics, rather than an advance down the path of corporate globalization." (Foreign Policy in Focus)

NAFTA at 10 (February 2, 2004)

NAFTA "is the constitution of an emerging continental economy that recognizes one citizen--the business corporation." Analysis of the agreement reveals that it has increased the wealth distribution gap, forced small, local farmers to battle agri-business, and, overall, elevated poverty. This article calls US citizens to demand a rewriting of NAFTA, that includes fair development options and protections for human rights. (Nation)

India-Brazil: Cementing the South-South Alliance (January 31, 2004)

In the 1980s, development proponents advanced the idea of a system of trade preferences among poor countries. Brazilian President Lula da Silva aims to construct a new "world trade geography" by reviving this plan. The signing of a free trade agreement between India and Mercosur indicates progress in this direction. (Inter Press Service)

The Broken Promise of NAFTA (January 6, 2004)

Joseph Stiglitz writes in the New York Times that the North American Free Trade Agreement remains "controversial and even harmful" for Mexico. NAFTA did not reduce income disparities between the US and Mexico, and it did not generate many concrete economic gains. Instead, it established "a new set of rights – for business – that potentially weakened democracy throughout North America."

South Asia Starts Historic Summit amid "Winds of Change" (January 4, 2004)

The summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation generates many hopes. A historic treaty on turning South Asia into a free trade area tops the agenda. Participants will also decide on a social charter aiming at raising living standards. The population of South Asia accounts for one fifth of the world population and almost half of the world's poor. (Agence France Presse)



A Pact on Central America Free Trade Zone, Minus One (December 18, 2003)

The US concluded an agreement to establish the Central American Free Trade Area with Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. But Costa Rica refused to accept the deal which would allow the US to exclude "sensitive" products like sugar from liberalization, while forcing Costa Rica to open up its services market. (New York Times)

"Free Trade" Takes a Dive in Miami (December 2, 2003)

Fearing that Latin American countries would demolish the US vision of creating a "Free Trade Area of the Americas," the US government agreed to a compromise allowing the parties to opt in or out of each provision of the treaty. Though claiming this as a victory for the global justice movement, 50 Years is Enough urges poor countries to resist US pressure in bilateral negotiations.

Latin America Deserves Better (November 18, 2003)

Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticizes the US position on agriculture in the FTAA negotiations. An unequal trade treaty that forces local markets to compete against US subsidized agricultural surplus "will be bad for millions of the world's poorest people." (International Herald Tribune)

NAFTA No Model for Development (November 18, 2003)

The North American Free Trade Agreement serves as a blueprint for a future Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Now, as in 1993, the US promises that the free trade agreement will create jobs, increase wages and diminish poverty. Yet, two reports show that NAFTA produced the contrary. (Inter Press Service)

Mercosur and the FTAA: New Tensions and New Options (November 11, 2003)

The US proposals for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) present new challenges for the regional integration strategy of Mercosur. Mercosur aims at establishing a common market similar to the European Union, including economic and political integration. But the FTAA aim of expanding free trade to the Americas could threaten a deeper-going integration within Mercosur. (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

Resisting Globalization – The South American Consensus on the FTAA (November 10, 2003)

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) faces widespread opposition in Latin America, as people remember vividly their bad experience with the "liberalization" of markets. Economists join the critics more frequently, fearing that by following the economic model of NAFTA, the FTAA will also repeat its errors and hinder Latin American development. (In These Times)

Changing Tack, Brazil Pitches Flexible FTAA Approach (November 3, 2003)

Brazil changed its fierce opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and now defends a more flexible approach. To make sure that the economic integration will have positive and balanced results for all the countries concerned, Brazil favors an integration "í la carte" that allows countries to choose which accords to sign. (Dow Jones Newswires)

NAFTA's Promise and Reality (November 2003)

Mexico's accession to the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) in 1994 accelerated its transition to a liberalized economy. This report argues that trade agreements can be tools of development and poverty reduction. Yet to strengthen economies, they must include adequate protection from the stress of exposure to global competition and the increased pressure on natural resources. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Preparing to Protest in Miami: Why We Oppose the FTAA (November 14, 2003)

The FTAA is rife with flaws, including undue influence of US businesses, support for privatization, and acceptance of US agricultural subsidies. This article calls for a movement to challenge Washington's plans, and replace them with "genuine democracy." (Socialist Worker)

Foul Trade (October 24, 2003)

This Yellow Times article argues that free trade agreements such as NAFTA undermine governments' capacity to regulate corporations. Instead of benefiting the people, trade agreements ensure that producers can always "access the cheapest possible labor pool." NAFTA has become the "realization of the dream of the corporatists that free-market capitalism should rule the world."

Taking the Fight to Miami (October 23, 2003)

In this Rabble interview, Joao Pedro Stedile from the Brazilian Landless Peasants' Movement (MST) speaks out against the Free Trade Area of the Americas. He argues that the FTAA is a tool of neo-liberalism which will benefit only rich latifundistas.

Mexico Free Trade Founders on Japan's Farmers (October 23, 2003)

Bilateral trade talks between Japan and Mexico failed to create a free trade area, as the pact excluded farm products. Japan's leading party still represents the ideas of the traditional dynasty of territorial magnates, and they do their best to satisfy Japan's highly subsidized farmers. (Asia Times)

A Mexican Storm is Brewing (October 13, 2003)

Before the launch of the North American Free Trade Area, Mexico's "primitive" farming techniques did not hinder it from producing sufficient amounts of basic grains. Yet today, Mexico imports most of its cereals. This Yellow Times article contends that NAFTA never meant to improve the living conditions for Mexico's peasants, but pursued only the industry's interests.

India's "Look East" Policy Pays Off (October 11, 2003)

Since the early 1990s, India pursues a strategy of economic liberalization to participate actively in globalization. But before exposing itself to the far greater competition of global free trade, India seeks to "Look East" and to partner with ASEAN to establish a South East Asian free trade area. (Asia Times)

Bush's AIDS Test (October 9, 2003)

Despite US President Bush's "commitments" to combat AIDS, he exploits the NAFTA regime to urge Canada not to export generic drugs to poor countries. The entry of Latin American countries to the Free Trade Area of the Americas will expose them to similar – or even greater - US pressure on generic drugs, warns Naomi Klein in The Nation.

Traders Oppose Customs Union (October 2, 2003)

In November 2003, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya will sign a protocol establishing the East African Customs Union. Yet, Ugandan traders still fear that eliminating tariffs will erode their small share in the region's market. (Monitor, Uganda)

Labor Rights Protection in CAFTA (October 2003)

This Human Rights Watch paper argues that Central American labor laws fail to protect workers' rights. The Central American Free Trade Area (CAFTA) could therefore present an opportunity to ensure that governments amend their laws to comply with international standards. Yet, the labor rights provisions that the US proposes to include in the CAFTA agreement fall short of those standards and lack effective dispute settlement mechanisms.

Latin Bishops Launch Broadside against Free Trade Area (September 4, 2003)

The Catholic church strongly criticizes US plans to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Such a free trade zone would have "grave consequences" for its 800 million inhabitants, as it would foment the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few. (Inter Press Service)

As China Gallops, Mexico Sees Factory Jobs Slip Away (September 3, 2003)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) confers advantages to Mexican businesses. Yet, as Mexico cannot compete any longer with China on labor costs in low-skilled industries, China surpasses Mexico as the second largest exporter to the United States. (New York Times)

Mercosur for Sale? The EU's FTAA and the Need to Oppose It (August 2003)

The free trade talks between the EU and Mercosur are no less threatening than the US plans for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute contend that the EU primarily aims at competing with the US over corporate control of Latin America.

A High-Risk Trade Policy (July/August, 2003)

Bernard K. Gordon argues that Washington's push for bilateral trade agreements is unwise for an economy with widely distributed exports, especially since rising trade blocs already challenge US economic power. But if the US uses the WTO to strengthen its national trading interests it could threaten multilateralism. (Foreign Affairs)

New Life for Mercosur (July 28, 2003)

Six Latin American newspapers of different political ideology express views on negotiations to reinstitute and expand the Mercosur trading block, including the creation of a regional parliament that would act as a single body in trade negotiations. (World Press Review)

House Approves Singapore Trade Agreement (July 24, 2003)

The US-Singapore deal, coupled with a US-Chile agreement, provoked strong opposition from labor groups in the US, who warned it would hasten a "race to the bottom" in wages. (Associated Press)

The Mood on Globalism: Is the Ground Shifting? (July 18, 2003)

Is the current economic hardship bolstering support for fair trade? The author finds supportive evidence and a few unlikely converts to the cause of global justice. (

Pledging Allegiance to US Foreign Policy (July 18, 2003)

The Bush Administration favors bilateral trade agreements over WTO negotiations. Playing trading partners off each other can extract deeper concessions, including acquiescence to US foreign policy. (Rabble)

Arab Thumbs Down on Free Trade (July 16, 2003)

The US hopes its free trade agreement with Jordan will pave the way for a pact with the entire Middle East, but the US-Jordan deal has done little to help the country's workers. (AlterNet)

Central American Migrants Take Action on Trade and Regional Integration (July 13, 2003)

The neo-liberal economic model of the proposed Central American Free Trade Area has already failed to create dignified economic opportunities for the majority of Central Americans, and has provoked many to emigrate North in search of employment. (America Program)

Free-Trade Pact is Full of Dangers (July 11, 2003)

A South African economist contends that the proposed South African-US trade agreement would limit the SA government's control over development policy and other non-trade issues. (Business Day)

Bush and Lula: A Collision of Two Worlds (July 10, 2003)

The US failure to abide by multi-lateral agreements when it invaded Iraq threatens its credibility with Latin American trading partners. Therefore, the US will have to be open-minded to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's social policies in order to gain the support of Latin America's biggest economy for the FTAA. (Americas Program)

Bush and Lula: A Collision of Two Worlds (July 10, 2003)

The US failure to abide by multi-lateral agreements when it invaded Iraq threatens its credibility with Latin American trading partners. Therefore, the US will have to be open-minded to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's social policies in order to gain the support of Latin America's biggest economy for the FTAA. (Americas Program)

How to Build a Better Trade Pact with Central America (July, 2003)

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers amendments to CAFTA (US-Central American Free Trade Agreement) necessary to ensure that the terms of trade and investment will be fair and sustainable for the struggling economies of Central America.

Time for the NAFTA Environmental Watchdog to Get Some Teeth (June 24, 2003)

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was supposed to mitigate NAFTA's environmental impacts, but it needs more clout to protect natural resources in North America. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

US Maps Out Ambitious Middle East Deal (June 23, 2003)

The US claims a free trade agreement with the Middle East would be a boon to the region, but many fear what they see as US economic imperialism. (Inter Press Service)

Real Story on Free Trade and Jobs (June 16, 2003)

Libertarian conservatives seem to imply, US workers and investors have prospered from liberalized trade, while minimizing benefits for foreign partners and workers. They assure skeptics that, even after NAFTA, US companies invest only two billion dollars per year in Mexican manufacturing capacity compared with two hundred billion per year domestically. (CATO)

Exacerbation of Exploitation through FTAA (May 31, 2003)

The Free Trade Area of the Americas is simply an agreement between the corporate heads and the international financial institutions. This article says the FTAA would exacerbate poverty and push Latin American countries to give up their national structures, and sell off industries and infrastructures to private foreign buyers. (ZNet)

The Sound of the Soul (May 2003)

North and South American elites eager to sign a free trade agreement for the region may have met their match in the mountains of Bolivia, where a growing social movement has firmly rejected neo-liberal integration. (New Internationalist)

Serious Flaw in US-Singapore Trade Agreement Must Be Addressed (April 2003)

A provision in the proposed US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement allows products produced on two small Indonesian islands to be treated as if they were of Singaporean origin, but does not require Indonesia to adhere to the labor and environmental standards in the agreement. If passed, the provision would seriously hinder labor rights progress in Indonesia. (Carnegie Council for International Peace)

Fox Signs Rescue Package to Help Mexican Farmers (April 29, 2003)

The Mexican government announced that it would ask the US and Canada to accept new restrictions on their agricultural products under the NAFTA framework. Since 1994, NAFTA has brought a surge of American food into Mexico, devastating the livelihood of poor Mexican farmers. (Los Angeles Times)

Brazil Finds a Market for Exports and a Friend in China (April 23, 2003)

Two emerging economic giants, Brazil and China, expand their trading relationship to include more economic and cultural exchanges. China, whose expanding urban middle class consumes more and more Brazilian exports, prefers trade with a "non-ideological" partner, while Brazil finds satisfaction in circumventing the FTAA and decreasing dependency on foreign investment. (New York Times)

World Trade's Postwar Landscape (April 16, 2003)

In bilateral free-trade agreements, the US gives preferential treatment to countries that support the Iraq war and snubs those against it. While bringing the consistency of US economic policy into question, this fractured political climate worsens the stalemate at the WTO over trade liberalization. (Business Week)

All the Way with FTA? (April 15, 2003)

Increased international cooperation between the US and Australia is leading to a free trade agreement, but will Australia trade away its social and environmental protections in order to sell the US more hamburgers? Perhaps so, the author contends, given that the Howard government never liked those regulations in the first place. (ZNet)

New Enhanced Regional Agreements (April 2003)

Author Moses Tekere describes the problems with the Cotonou trade liberalization agreement between the EU and 77 allied African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. His proposed amendment would bring a real development framework into the agreement and increase reciprocity between nations. (Third World Network)

Trade Brings Riches, but Not to Mexico's Poor (March 22, 2003)

Experts cite several factors responsible for Mexico's poverty rate, which has remained steady at 50 percent since the 1980s while population has grown sharply. "But what has become painfully clear in Mexico is that free trade -- most famously NAFTA -- has failed to lift the country out of poverty," says the Washington Post.

Jordan's Sweatshops: The Carrot or the Stick of US Policy? (February 26, 2003)

The 2001 free trade agreement between the United States and Jordan has led to an explosion of so-called "Qualified Industrial Zones," where workers in foreign owned factories produce US consumer goods for about $3.50 a day. Many Jordanians see the free trade agreement as politically motivated to increase US presence in the region. (CorpWatch)

US Opening Offer for Americas Deal Ignores Farm Subsidies (February 11, 2003)

The US opened the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations with an offer to eliminate all tariffs on textile products from states in the Americas within five years. The US also demanded removal of duties on consumer and industrial goods, in which the US has a comparative advantage, but left farm subsidies in tact. (Inter Press Service)

Poor Mexico Farmers Boycott National Farming Policy Talks (February 10, 2003)

Three major farm coalitions boycotted a forum held by Mexican President Vicente Fox intended to devise ways to help Mexico's impoverished farmers. Small farmers claim that the agriculture clauses of the North American Free Trade Agreement have been disastrous for them, and complain that Mexico has been cutting subsidies while the US has raised them. (Associated Press)

The Tricks of Trade Treaties (February 2003)

Joseph Stiglitz provides an incisive analysis into the hypocrisy and biases inherent in US bilateral free trade agreements. He uses Chile as an example of how US interests dominate negotiations, which promote neither fair nor free trade. (Project Syndicate)

CAFTA: Free Trade Vs. Democracy (January 29, 2003)

US Trade Officials and Central American leaders have begun negotiations to expand NAFTA-style reduction of trade barriers to create a Central American Free Trade Agreement. Labor organizations in Central America oppose these plans, claiming they are non-democratic and undermine freedom of association.(Foreign Policy in Focus)



New Accord a Boon to US Leadership in FTAA (December 11, 2002)

Chile's new bilateral free trade agreement with the United States sets a precedent that will increase US influence in the FTAA negotiations, this article argues. Chile's Treasury Minister insists that Chile did not "give in," but admits it had to accept some "rules and procedures" for intellectual property rights and financial liberalization. (Inter Press Service)

NAFTA Equals Death, Say Peasant Farmers (December 3, 2002)

The expansion of free trade into Mexico prevents indigenous farmers from competing both domestically and internationally. UNORCA, a national union of over thirty regional peasant groups, organized demonstrations throughout Mexico to protest new trade liberalization measures that take effect in January. (Inter-Press Services)

FTAA, External Debt and Militarization: Three Axes of the Same Project (November 27, 2002)

Parallel to the FTAA meetings in Quito, South American experts held conferences to address growing concern that free trade, debt and structural adjustment, and militarization all contribute to increased United States power and control in the western hemisphere. (ATTAC)

Free Trade Agreements: Threads Of A Giant Continental Spider Web (November 27, 2002)

Rich and poor countries around the world are rushing to build free trade areas, convinced of the benefits of increased and liberalized trade. However, structural inequities shut out many of trade's benefits from the poor world, producing greater inequality and more entrenched poverty. (ATTAC)

Cashews and Nutty Policies in Mozambique (December 2002)

Harvard Prof. Dani Rodrik claims the failure of Mozambique's cashew industry represents a prime example of how trade liberalization does not necessarily benefit developing countries. He argues for a deeper analysis of development policy and in this instance, its impacts on rural producers and urban workers. (Project Syndicate)

Central American Free Trade Agreement Must Include Workers' Rights (November 19, 2002)

The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights calls on US officials to ensure that labor rights provisions are included in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations. The Lawyers Committee argues that CAFTA has the potential to improve or worsen the situation for workers in countries with documented labor rights abuses.

The Case for a South, Central Asia Trade Bloc (November 14, 2002)

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently signed an agreement to create the world's largest free trading bloc in July of 2003. The addition of India and Central Asia could create an exceptionally robust economic zone but significant domestic and international social, economic and political hurdles must be overcome. (Asia Times)

What Makes up the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? (November 13, 2002)

The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement will create a free trade corridor from Canada through Chile. It favors the sovereignty and rights of transnational corporations and fails to provide adequate protection of human rights in areas such as education, health, expression, intellectual property and basic living standards. (ATTAC)

A Street-Level Trade Debate (November 5, 2002)

The broad consensus among trade ministers at the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meeting in Quito was that "more trade is better than less." Outside the meeting, however, indigenous peoples argued that the FTAA would thrust open the Amazon rain forest to oil and mining corporations and destroy small-scale farming. (New York Times)

As US Seeks a Trade Accord, Brazilians Recall Discord (October 30, 2002)

Now that Lula da Silva has won Brazil's presidential election, experts foresee difficulty in negotiating the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), scheduled for completion by January 2005. While some are in favor of the accord, many Brazilians are deeply skeptical of this veritable free trade corridor throughout the hemisphere. (New York Times)

Snookered (October 29, 2002)

Writer Paul Harris claims vested government and corporate interests swindled the majority of American working people by falsely hyping NAFTA as a panacea for poverty and development. In fact, NAFTA produced substantial negative economic and social side effects in all three North American countries. (Yellow Times)

Zoellick's Trade-Deal Push Could Undermine the WTO (October 25, 2002)

US trade representative Robert Zoellick, under the authority of the "fast track" initiative, has "littered" the world with bilateral trade agreements. Critics, including some large US exporters, question Zoellick's motives, arguing that bilateral agreements could ultimately undermine efforts to promote free and fair trade. (Wall Street Journal)

Protests Against Development Hit Central America (October 14, 2002)

Indigenous peoples in Mexico and Central America staged Columbus Day protests against the "Puebla-Panama" plan, which would promote energy, tourism, and infrastructure development in the region. Protesters argue that the plan will only benefit big business and further impoverish indigenous communities. (Reuters)

NAFTA: A Cautionary Tale (October 24, 2002)

Before trade ministers gather in Quito for negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, they ought to reflect on Mexico's experience with NAFTA. Contrary to the expectation that economic integration would raise living standards, Mexico now suffers from slow growth, lower wages, increased poverty, and more inequality. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Happily Ever NAFTA? (September/October 2002)

Foreign Policy presents a debate between key NAFTA negotiators and vocal US critics of NAFTA from the Institute for Policy Studies. Two rounds of discussion highlight the positive and negative aspects of free trade and economic liberalization.

Plan Puebla Panama, or Private Plans for Profit? (September 19, 2002)

A multi-billion dollar proposal to transform the region from Southern Mexico to Panama into an enormous free trade zone promises large-scale development. According to CorpWatch, foreign corporations will reap the benefits of this plan at the expense of indigenous peoples.

East Asia Free-Trade Area Before 2010 (April 14, 2002)

By playing a leading role in the creation of an East-Asian free trade area, Japan hopes to benefit from a market that incorporates one third of the world's population. The grouping, dubbed "ASEAN plus-five" plans to develop an Asian challenge to the dominance of the EU and NAFTA. (Japan Times)

Plan Puebla-Panama: The Next Step in Corporate Globalization (April 2002)

Mexican President Vicente Fox endorses Plan Puebla-Panama as a "development vision for Central America." Critics argue that, as an expansion of NAFTA, the construction of transportation and sweatshop corridors across the isthmus will exacerbate poverty and environmental destruction. (Labor Notes)

Price of Free Trade: Famine (March 22, 2002)

The impact of trade liberalization in Central America has already led to skyrocketing interest rates and bankrupt farms. The author argues that the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement will exacerbate these problems, deepening an already widespread famine in the region. (Los Angeles Times)

Free Trade Area of the Americas: Much to Lose, Little to Gain (March 2, 2002)

"The FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) is creating a free-trade area without instruments for cooperation and without provisions for special treatment for the most vulnerable economies." Considering the current economic climate in Argentina and other Latin American countries, what motivates their governments to continue negotiations with the US? (Inter Press Service)

Central America: Readying for Free Trade With United States (February 22, 2002)

The NAFTA agreement pushed Mexico into the spotlight, at the expense of countries in Central America. Proposals for CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) would give Nicaragua, El Salvador and others duty-free access to US markets as early as 2003. (Americas Program)

Many Oppose Trade Deal (February 11, 2002)

Activists fighting corporate-led globalization see the Free Trade Area of the Americas as "a policy of annexation of Latin America by the US." Critics propose an EU-style model that includes "compensatory measures" for poorer countries, enabling them to trade on an equal basis. (The Nation)

Battle Lines Drawn on Free Trade Zone (February 5, 2002)

NGOs plan a serious of protests against the US-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Critics argue the proposal will not increase free trade but will simply extend US economic domination of the Americas, a trend initiated by the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Business Day)

Brazil Increasingly Unenthusiastic about US FTAA Proposals (February 1, 2002)

In Brazil's negotiations over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the desire for greater access to the world's markets must be balanced with the population's "disillusionment with the results of neo-liberal reform." With 23 million living in poverty, doubts remain over the benefits of free trade for Brazil. (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

Competing Visions for the Hemisphere (January 2002)

The Hemispheric Social Alliance provides an alternative to the official draft of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), critiquing the "dominant free market approach to globalization that elevates the interests of large corporations above those of society as a whole."



A Public Citizen Primer on the FTAA (March 2001)

Public Citizen presents a basic guide to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) warning that "the FTAA's goal is to impose NAFTA's failed model of increased privatization and deregulation throughout the hemisphere."



Countdown to Free Trade Areas Has Begun (August 30, 2000)

Two free trade areas – SADC and Comesa – are due to be launched in southern Africa in the coming weeks. At the moment, some eleventh-hour diplomacy is still shifting allegiances and memberships. (Business Day )



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