The Free Trade Area of the Americas is a proposed agreement among countries on the American continent to engage in free trade. While there are many supporters of such an agreement, there are also many people who oppose this agreement and warn against how it could harm those involved. (Vizentini & Wiesebron, 2004) The following paragraphs will examine the FTAA, explain arguments both for and against its adoption, and analyze its effects on the world economy, offering personal perspectives along the way.
Governments supporting the FTAA do so for several reasons. First of all, such an agreement would support more trade among these nations, increasing access to various resources in these nations and allowing them to expand economically. (Official Website of the FTAA, 2006) Governments believe that it would support the strength of the continent as a whole, allowing many countries access to resources and trade relationships that can provide them with infrastructure and overall growth. (Official Website of the FTAA, 2006)
There are many reasons that people protest the adoption of the FTAA.
One reason is that it has not been subject to citizen input and thus many believe that the governments are acting selfishly. (Vizentini & Wiesebron, 2004) Others believe that this agreement would only benefit powerful nations such as the U.S., particularly as the agreement attempts to increase resource trade but place more protections around intellectual property, a construct that primarily favors more technologically advanced nations and stunts the technological growth of others. (Vizentini & Wiesebron, 2004) This is of particular importance as intellectual property rights begin to expand to agriculture and seeds.
It could impact the ability of poorer nations to farm for their livelihood. (Trebilcock, 2015) Many people even go so far as to compare such an agreement to the U.S. expanding its reach and direct influence into the South, essentially colonizing Latin America. (Vizentini & Wiesebron, 2004) Many people believe that the increased trade will also result in labor rights infringement and faster environmental destruction. (Vizentini & Wiesebron, 2004)
I believe that the FTAA would not help living standards in small countries. From the proposed agreements and changes to trade agreements and what types of things would be protected, I believe that it could harm these small nations. I believe that it would only help the more powerful nations in the Americas.
Governments could help small companies compete in this trading bloc by giving the small companies subsidies and tax breaks to pass these cost savings onto the consumer and compete with the large corporations. Anything that the governments in these nations can do by reducing the costs of running the small business that multinational corporations can utilize helps the small business. (Trebilcock, 2015)
I believe that sub-regional trading blocs can help small nations strengthen their negotiating position among large nations as the trading bloc can act as somewhat of its nation. (Trebilcock, 2015) However, usually, these sub-regional trading blocs are not as effective as large nations in trade negotiations.
Historically, small nations tend to get taken advantage of in such trade agreements. (Trebilcock, 2015) Thus, I believe that it would be unwise for a small nation, particularly one that does not have much technological prowess to agree to such a trading bloc. It can harm these nations economically and create a great deal of instability in the nation as their resources are reaped by stronger nations.
I think that these trade agreements can cause instability on a sub-regional, regional and global scale. Small, undeveloped countries are generally harmed by such trading blocs.
Regionally, only the strongest nations are benefitted at the cost of smaller nations’ health and longevity, creating instability in the region as a whole as only some nations prosper.
Furthermore, such trading blocs generally result in other countries outside of the trading bloc being excluded from a great deal of trade, and it can create global instability. (Trebilcock, 2015)
I believe that in theory, these trade agreements can be valuable. However, they should be approached with caution, as it is very easy for trade agreements like this to harm small, undeveloped countries so that powerful nations can become more powerful. I believe that governments must approach such agreements from a more ethical stance considering what the true effects of these trading blocs will be on all types of nations. Historically, it seems that powerful nations have created these agreements for purely selfish reasons. It is only when countries think of the greater good that such blocs can succeed.