Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eye on Trade

Over at Public Citizen's Eye on Trade blog, they are complaining that CAFTA has no means by which the US can eject a country that has undertaken some anti-democratic action, failed to adopt the rule of law, or otherwise misbehaved. The blog compares that to AGOA, a program in which the President has exactly that power. Recently, Niger, Guinea, and Madagascar lost AGOA benefits following undemocratic transfers of power. Why not, Public Citizen wonders, do the same under CAFTA where Honduras has had a similar experience.

The reason is that AGOA, GSP, and other unilateral preference programs belong to the United States. The US made the rules and can kick out a country that fails to satisfy the rules. CAFTA, like NAFTA and the other bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, are different. The rules were negotiated between and among the parties. Since no one will agree to negotiate and implement a trade agreement from which they might be ejected, the agreements contain no such provisions.

Public Citizen may not like it, but the practical reality is that the trade agreements just don't work that way.

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