Trade and Environment in the Western Hemisphere: Expanding the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation into the Americas

By Block, Greg | Environmental Law, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Trade and Environment in the Western Hemisphere: Expanding the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation into the Americas


Block, Greg, Environmental Law


I.   INTRODUCTION
II.  BACKGROUND AND THE NAFTA EXPERIENCE
     A. The Structure: NAFTA, the NAAEC, and the CEC
     B. Nature of Environmental Concerns
        1. NAFTA's Impacts on Environment Revisited
        2. NAAEC Regional Impact
           a. Mexico
           b. Canada
           c. United States
     C. A Regional Voice for Environmental Cooperation
        1. Impact on Trade and Trade Policy
        2. How CEC's Trade/Environment Linkage Impacts
           the NAAEC Model
           a. Failing to Anticipate, Monitor, and Assess
              Compositional and Scale Effects
           b. Economic Integration Without Environmental
              Policy Convergence
III. THE NEXT FRONTIER: THE FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS
     A. Overview of Parties and Process
     B. Environmental Considerations in the Free Trade Area of the
        Americas
        1. Latin America and the Caribbean: An Ecological Treasure
           Trove
        2. Scale and Compositional Effects
IV.  TOWARDS THE FTAA: INVESTING IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND
     STRENGTHENING AND EXPANDING THE CEC
     A. Ignoring Developmental Needs Will Undermine U.S. Efforts to
        Promote the Effective Enforcement of Environmental Law
        in Latin America
     B. The Need to Adapt the Mandate, Structure, and Procedures of
        the NAAEC for FTAA Expansion
        1. Fine-Tuning the NAAEC Mandate: Strengthening
           Citizen Submissions
        2. Reinforcing Secretariat's Autonomy to Recommend and
           Prepare Factual Records
        3. Considering Allegations that Specific Trade Policies or
           Practices Are Harming or Threatening to Harm National or
           International Efforts to Protect Human Health and the
           Environment
V.  CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (1) and its environmental side accord, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), (2) came into force in 1994, free trade promoters labeled NAFTA the "greenest" trade agreement on record. Nearly ten years later, the Bush Administration hopes to expand the so-called "free trade zone" throughout most of the Western Hemisphere by negotiating an accord known as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The U.S. government has again committed to including consideration of environmental issues in the negotiation of the accord, this time by including several provisions in the so-called "fast track" authority allowing the President to present a comprehensive take-it-or-leave-it FTAA package to Congress.

The Bush Administration has moved quickly to negotiate regional free trade agreements since having gained trade promotion authority from Congress in August 2002. A draft agreement with Chile awaits formal presentation to Congress, and the United States Trade Representative is quickly closing in on a similar package of NAFTA-type trade liberalization and investment measures with countries in Central America. Overall, the approach U.S. trade negotiators are taking on environmental issues is similar to the approach taken in NAFTA: They are eliciting commitments for maintaining high levels of environmental protection and including monetary enforcement penalties for engaging in a pattern of failure to effectively enforce environmental laws.

Free trade may one day deliver many of the economic benefits promised by its supporters. Indeed, ten years into NAFTA, the region has posted impressive trade and investment figures, and the direst predictions about pollution havens and environmental dumping have yet to materialize. All the same, increased trade and investment has so far failed to generate the additional resources necessary to strengthen the institutional capacity to protect the environment and health in developing countries. During this transitional period, vital nonrenewable natural resources, ecosystems, and human health in vulnerable populations are at great risk. …

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