Washington, DC, March 30, 2001—When the countries involved in the Free Trade Area of the Americas process meet the first week of April, a representative of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, will observe the talks, paying special attention to discussion of environmental issues.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Since ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the US in 1994, environmental, labor, and some corporate interests have insisted that subsequent trade negotiations include stricter environmental and labor standards. Gregory Conko, CEI’s representative at the talks, says this is a bad policy because it is detrimental to less developed countries.
“Trade restrictions hurt people by reducing choices in both the workplace and the marketplace, but their biggest impact is on the world’s poor,” said Conko. “Less developed nations can not be expected to improve environmental standards until they develop economically, and they can’t do that until they are allowed to trade.”
Conko said the Bush Administration is expected to be less inclined to link environmental and labor standards with the negotiation of trade treaties, but that domestic political interests may make negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas dependent upon such linkage.
“Nevertheless,” Conko added, “Latin American nations should insist that agreement on a Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty not be linked to environmental or labor restrictions, and those countries should walk away from the negotiations if the US insists upon including them.”
Before arriving at the FTAA meetings, Conko will speak at a conference on the legal and regulatory barriers in working toward free trade in the Americas, sponsored by three Latin American and one US-based public interest groups. In addition to observing the FTAA talks, Conko will also file daily reports with National Review Online.
For interviews, please call Jody Clarke at 202.331.1010, ext. 208, or e-mail Mr. Conko at email@example.com.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. You can find more information about CEI on the web at www.cei.org.