NAFTA in Transition

By Stephen J. Randall; Herman W. Konrad | Go to book overview

Gustavo del Castillo Vera Director, Department of United States Studies El Colegio de la Frontera Norte


8
Institutional Concerns and Mechanisms
Developing from Tripartite Free Trade
Negotiations in North America

The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of the tripartite relationships existing in North America and the ways these relationships will define the nature of the negotiating process of a free-trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In this paper, a typology will be presented which attempts to outline the possible relationship existing between public and private actors in these three countries and their expected preferences, either for an intensification of the bilateral relationships existing between them, or their preferences for more of a continentalist perspective. It is these preferences that will set the parameters for a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiating process. The preferences involved are those of collective actors organized around professional or functional organizations of the private sector, and the bureaucracies and decision-making centres of the public sector. Over time, when these preferences are expressed in a collective fashion, they create the structural conditions for present and future negotiations.

This analysis develops a typology of private and public behaviour in North America along a so-called integration continuum, where the poles are characterized by bilateralism, on the one hand, and continentalism, on the other. Continentalism is not represented by the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) in North America but is only a stage along this continuum, where true continentalism would imply the full integration of the countries in a common market.

As a starting point for this analysis, I propose that, all things being equal, the starting point for negotiations of a North American FTA will tend to favour bilateral negotiations between Mexico and the United States, as was the case between Canada and the United States (under the already signed FTA), given the fact that the significant and most meaningful trade relationship between these countries is of a bilateral nature.

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