Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Le libre-échange et les accords de commerce dans la politique commerciale des États-Unis – Cahiers de recherche - CEIM 04-03

M. Christian Deblock, Centre Études internationales et Mondialisation, Université du Québec à Montréal, 16 avril 2004 -2004/04/16

“The United States has not waited for constantly delayed reforms in the global multilateral trade system to attempt to address system shortfalls through other means, and advance its trade agenda, world view, and geostrategic interests. The U.S. has multiplied its parallel trade initiatives over the past two decades as it increasingly opts for a bilateral approach.” In this study, Christian Deblock reviews and interprets this trend by examining three variables: trade interests, geostrategic interests, and values. He shows how the Bush administration has given a new direction to American trade policy by capitalizing on trade alliances and fostering competition between trade agreements on the one hand, and using trade agreements for diplomatic and geostrategic purposes on the other. Mr. Deblock also contends that two new trends have emerged in the category of what he calls special trade arrangements. One of them has to do with bilateral arrangements, which enable the United States “to get around certain provisions or exceptions that multilateral agreements contain on issues like cultural diversity and GMOs.”
In an appendix analyzing the objectives of a free tradeagreement with Morocco, the author notes that the agreement must be viewed within the context of the Middle East Trade Initiative launched in May 2003. The U.S. strategy is to “build upon existing agreements [notably with Singapore and Chile] to constantly raise the bar.” The Americans target “sectors that hold promise for U.S. exports” such as public markets and telecommunication and IT services. Mr. Deblock also notes that American negotiator Robert Zoellick “has been one of the most ardent defenders of free trade agreements, both for ideological and strategic reasons […] In the case of developing countries in general, and Morocco in particular, the official line is that free trade agreements are doubly beneficial: on the one hand, they strengthen trade liberalization and existing reforms and on the other, they create an economic and social environment conducive to development.” In short, the idea is “to demonstrate the development benefits these countries can gain from trade and investment, then lock in trade liberalization policies and reforms through a free trade agreement.” Mr. Deblock situates the Morocco-U.S. free trade deal within this framework of a “new strategy of strategic alliances.” In his view, the advantages of the agreement are unquestionable: “It could set a precedent for other agreements while seriously hampering European plans for a free trade zone in the region. In the shorter term, it would also eliminate the competitive disadvantage American corporations currently face and help them make up lost ground.” (Available in French)