CENTRAL AMERICAN COMMON MARKET, CAFTA, AND CARICOM
Two other trade pacts in the Americas have not made much progress. In the early 1960s, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua attempted to set up a Central American Common Market. It collapsed in 1969 when war broke out between Honduras and El Salvador after a riot at a soccer match between teams from the two countries. Since then, the member-countries have made some progress toward reviving their agreement (the five founding members were joined by the Dominican Republic). The proposed common market was given a boost in 2003 when the United States signaled its intention to enter into bilateral free trade negotiations with the group. These culminated in a 2004 agreement to establish a free trade agreement between the six countries and the United States. Known as the Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, the aim is to lower trade barriers between the United States and the six countries for most goods and services.
Central American Common Market
A trade pact among Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, which began in the early 1960s but collapsed in 1969 due to war.
Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)
The agreement of the member-states of the Central American Common Market joined by the Dominican Republic to trade freely with the United States.
A customs union was to have been created in 1991 between the English-speaking Caribbean countries under the auspices of the Caribbean Community. Referred to as CARICOM, it was established in 1973. However, it repeatedly failed to progress toward economic integration. A formal commitment to economic and monetary union was adopted by CARICOM’s member-states in 1984, but since then, little progress has been made. In October 1991, the CARICOM governments failed, for the third consecutive time, to meet a deadline for establishing a common external tariff. Despite this, CARICOM expanded to 15 members by 2005. In early 2006, six CARICOM members established the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Modeled on the EU’s single market, CSME’s goal is to lower trade barriers and harmonize macroeconomic and monetary policy between member states.33
An association of English-speaking Caribbean states that are attempting to establish a customs union.
Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)
Unites six CARICOM members in agreeing to lower trade barriers and harmonize macroeconomic and monetary policies.
FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS
At a hemispherewide Summit of the Americas in December 1994, a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was proposed. It took more than three years for the talks to start, but in April 1998, 34 heads of state traveled to Santiago, Chile, for the second Summit of the Americas, where they formally inaugurated talks to establish an FTAA by January 1, 2005—something that didn’t occur. The continuing talks have addressed a wide range of economic, political, and environmental issues related to cross-border trade and investment. Although both the United States and Brazil were early advocates of the FTAA, support from both countries seems to be mixed at this point. Because the United States and Brazil have the largest economies in North and South America, respectively, strong U.S. and Brazilian support is a precondition for establishment of the free trade area.
The major stumbling blocks so far have been twofold. First, the United States wants its southern neighbors to agree to tougher enforcement of intellectual property rights and lower manufacturing tariffs, which they do not seem to be eager to embrace. Second, Brazil and Argentina want the United States to reduce its subsidies to U.S. agricultural producers and scrap tariffs on agricultural imports, which the U.S. government does not seem inclined to do. For progress to be made, most observers agree that the United States and Brazil have to first reach an agreement on these crucial issues.34 If the FTAA is eventually established, it will have major implications for cross-border trade and investment flows within the hemisphere. The FTAA would open a free trade umbrella over 850 million people, who accounted for some $18 trillion in GDP in 2008.
Currently, however, FTAA is very much a work in progress, and the progress has been slow. The most recent attempt to get talks going again, in November 2005 at a summit of 34 heads of state from North and South America, failed when opponents, led by Venezuela’s populist President Hugo Chavez, blocked efforts by the Bush administration to set an agenda for further talks on FTAA. In voicing his opposition, Chavez condemned the U.S. free trade model as a “perversion” that would unduly benefit the United States to the detriment of poor people in Latin America whom Chavez claims have not benefited from free trade details.35 Such views make it unlikely that there will be much progress on establishing a FTAA in the near term.
Regional Economic Integration Elsewhere
LEARNING OBJECTIVE 4
Explain the history, current scope, and future prospects of the world’s most important regional economic agreements.
Numerous attempts at regional economic integration have been tried throughout Asia and Africa. However, few exist in anything other than name. Perhaps the most significant is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In addition, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has recently emerged as the seed of a potential free trade region.