What Does a Free Trade Agreement Include
U.S. Department of Commerce. Census Bureau, foreign trade statistics. “New updates to 2005 data.” Available from www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/. Retrieved 17 April 2006. Two countries participate in bilateral agreements. The two countries agree to ease trade restrictions to expand business opportunities between them. They lower tariffs and grant each other preferential trade status. The sticking point tends to focus on the main domestic industries protected or subsidized by the government. For most countries, these are the automotive, oil or food production industries.
The Obama administration negotiated with the European Union the world`s largest bilateral agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The United States currently has a number of free trade agreements in place. These include multinational agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which covers the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which covers most Central American countries. There are also separate trade agreements with countries ranging from Australia to Peru. Free trade policy is not so popular with the general public. The main problems include unfair competition from countries where lower labour costs allow for price reductions and the loss of well-paying jobs to manufacturers abroad. These agreements between three or more countries are the most difficult to negotiate. The larger the number of participants, the more difficult the negotiations become. By their nature, they are more complex than bilateral agreements, as each country has its own needs and desires. In 1995, GATT became the World Trade Organization (WTO), which today has more than 140 member countries. The WTO monitors four international trade agreements: GATT, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Agreements on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights and Investment (TRIPS and TRIMS, respectively). The WTO is now the forum where Members can negotiate the removal of trade barriers; The most recent forum is the Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001.
What is clear is that NAFTA remains a lightning rod for political views on globalization and free trade in general. Opposition to NAFTA has grown and made it much more politically difficult to adopt other similar free trade agreements. This was clearly demonstrated in the summer of 2005, when the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) stagnated in Congress due to a lack of support. Two journalists, Dawn Gilbertson and Jonathan J. Higuera, who wrote on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of NAFTA in the Republic of Arizona, summed it up this way: “The reality of 10-year-old NAFTA is this: an ever-changing story of winners and losers that depends largely on where you work and what you do.” The same goes for the impact of NAFTA on small businesses. For some, it was an opportunity to grow and for others a challenge. Controversy over the treaty`s environmental protection provisions remained strong in the late 1990s. In fact, North American trade interests have sought to weaken an important NAFTA side agreement on environmental protection and enforcement. The agreement – one of the few provisions welcomed by environmental groups – allows groups and ordinary citizens to accuse member states of not enforcing their own environmental legislation. A trinational commission for environmental cooperation is tasked with investigating these allegations and publishing public reports. “This process is slow, but the embarrassment factor turned out to be surprisingly high,” Business Week noted. Since 2005, the U.S.
government has spoken out against NAFTA revisions. But the Canadian government and many companies in all three countries continue to work to change the agreement. The exemption from the customs union was intended to take account of the creation of the European Economic Community (EC) in 1958. The European Commission, which originally consisted of six European countries, is now known as the European Union (EU) and comprises twenty-seven European countries. The EU has gone beyond simply removing barriers to trade between Member States and forming a customs union. It has moved towards even greater economic integration by becoming a common market – a regime that removes obstacles to the mobility of factors of production such as capital and labour between participating countries. As a common market, the EU also coordinates and harmonises the fiscal, industrial and agricultural policies of different countries. In addition, many EU members have formed a single currency area by replacing their national currency with the euro. As a result, many countries have turned away from the multilateral process and turned to bilateral or regional trade agreements.
One such agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered into force in January 1994. Under NAFTA, the United States, Canada and Mexico agreed to phase out all tariffs on trade in goods and reduce restrictions on trade in services and foreign investment over a decade. The United States also has bilateral agreements with Israel, Jordan, Singapore, and Australia, and is negotiating bilateral or regional trade agreements with countries in Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. The European Union has also concluded free trade agreements with other countries around the world. Few issues divide economists and the general public as much as free trade. .