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The Political Economy of Hemispheric Integration Responding to Globalization in the Americas

Diego Sánchez-Ancochea and Kenneth Shadlen (eds)
Palgrave Macmillan (July 2008)

Cover of The Political Economy of Hemispheric Integration: Responding to globalization in the AmericasThe 1990s and the early years of the 21st century have witnessed the emergence and proliferation of regional and bilateral trade agreements (RBTAs) between developed and developing countries in the Americas. These agreements typically liberalise trade in most goods and services, and they also coordinate measures on a broad range of economic policy areas beyond trade. The first and most prominent of these agreements is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the USA, Canada and Mexico signed in the early 1990s. In subsequent years, the USA has concluded agreements with a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The contributors to this book evaluate the economics and politics of this new pattern of North-South integration in the Americas. The book begins by considering the developmental implications of this new pattern of integration. Such agreements provide Latin American and Caribbean countries with significantly improved access to the US market, yet purchasing such preferential access via negotiation of RBTAs agreements with the US obliges countries to adopt US-style practices in areas such as the management of inward foreign investment and intellectual property. The first half of the volume addresses these issues, focusing on the challenges derived from new patterns of foreign investment, the rise of China as an exporting power, the emergence of a new regime for investment protection, and the multiplicity of intrusive forms of economic governance embodied in regional and global trade regimes.

The second half of the book focuses on both the proliferation of RBTAs, and, critically, the limits to the spread of such agreements. The authors consider the interests in integration and strategies for negotiating RBTAs from the perspective of a variety of actors, deploying a range of analytic approaches. The chapters assess the capacities of the US to fulfil ambitions for integration, the strategy of Canada to both maintain close relations with the US and counterbalance its neighbour's preponderant influence throughout the region, the response of smaller countries in Central America and the Caribbean, reactions toward integration of the larger South American countries in Mercosur, and the broader question of how developing countries form coalitions and design collective bargaining strategies to participate in international trade politics.

Diego Sánchez-Ancochea is lecturer in Economics at the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London.
Kenneth Shadlen is senior lecturer at the Development Studies Institute (DESTIN) at LSE.