Law and Policy of Regional Integration: The NAFTA and Western Hemispheric Integration in the World Trade Organization System

The George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics, January 1, 1996 | Go to article overview

Law and Policy of Regional Integration: The NAFTA and Western Hemispheric Integration in the World Trade Organization System


Law and Policy of Regional Integration: The NAFTA and Western Hemispheric Integration in the World Trade Organization System, by Frederick M. Abbott. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1995. Pp. 201. $112.00 (hardcover).

This book considers recent developments in and emerging issues associated with the emerging free-trade regimes in the Americas, with a pronounced emphasis on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in the context of the new World Trade Organization (WTO) regime. Despite obvious economic benefits to the parties and the specific allowance for regional integration agreements (RIAs) contained in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the author anticipates and addresses potential problems and conflicts that may arise as a result of rising domestic protectionism and conflicts of law with the WTO.

Chapter one reviews the strategy followed by the Bush and Clinton administrations in negotiating and obtaining Senate approval for the NAFTA. It addresses the concerns of third party countries in appraising the potential emergence of a "Fortress America" as an answer to "Fortress Europe," and third party concerns related to trade diversion. Finally, chapter one addresses the interests of Canada and Mexico in negotiating and formally acceding to the NAFTA.

Chapter two provides a rough outline of the NAFTA's basic framework and substantive content. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the NAFTA and its predecessor, the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA), and the lack of any common external commercial policy or tariff regime.

The third chapter discusses the potential for conflict between the WTO and RIAs, particularly the NAFTA. Special attention is paid to GATT Article XXIV (which specifically contemplates and allows for RIAs in certain circumstances), and to several areas of potential conflict, such as dispute resolution and intellectual property protection.

In chapter four, the author describes and analyzes NAFTA provisions affecting intra-block trade in goods. Specifically addressed are tariff eliminations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, rules of origin, and government procurement. Potential conflicts withand other relations to-the WTO and the GATT are considered and discussed.

Chapter five begins with a discussion of NAFTA provisions relating to trade in services and to intra-block foreign direct investment (FDI). Special attention is paid to specific economic sectors, including telecommunications, banking, transportation, and construction, and to the impact upon each sector that the NAFTA is expected to have. The chapter continues by examining the NAFTA intellectual property (IP) regime. Observing that the NAFTA IP provisions are a part of a larger, global effort to incorporate IP rights into international trade regimes, the author relates the relevant provisions to corresponding provisions in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) accord. …

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