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Synthesis/Regeneration 6   (Spring 1993)

"Free" Trade: Origins, Perspectives & Strategies

Listening to debates on NAFTA can easily give the impression that if we could just defeat it in 1993, then the struggle would be over. But it won't be over. The trend toward a global economy with the overdeveloped countries sucking wealth from the rest of the world has been a long time in the making. Articles on the development of "free" trade show that treaties like GATT and NAFTA will be around as long as there is an expansionist economy dominated by transnational corporations.

It would also be easy to listen to speeches opposing NAFTA and conclude that everyone agrees on how to fight it. You might need to read articles in this section carefully to pick up on differences in perspectives. Opponents have two major approaches to NAFTA: (1) reject it outright; or, (2) patch it up with additional agreements. Another difference is based on whether opponents wish to mount a public campaign against NAFTA or rely on lobbying Washington politicians. There is somewhat of a parallel between these two dichotomies: those who propose side agreements often rely on lobbying; those who advocate rejection emphasize public demonstrations. But this difference is not absolute because many support mass mobilizations simultaneous with lobbying efforts.

A subtle issue which makes its way into many trade debates is the question of local sovereignty: Do we want any international standards? Or, should Greens oppose all control by a global authority? If we want international standards, on what basis and how should an international power impose its will upon nations and states?

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