Free Trade versus the Environment in NAFTA

  • David J. Blair
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The current public debate over globalization was fuelled by the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Protests by numerous groups over the alleged consequences of the agreement, and the media attention they received, raised awareness of the larger process of economic integration of which NAFTA was only a part. This growing awareness coincided with the renewed environmental consciousness that gripped much of the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s, as new information emerged about such trends as global warming and ozone depletion. Inevitably, conflicts arose between the promoters of trade liberalization on the one hand and supporters of environmental protection on the other, prompting policy makers and others to seek ways in which the two goals could be reconciled. NAFTA was the first major international trade agreement in which this reconciliation effort would be tested. The compromise that was struck involved introducing a number of environmental provisions into the NAFTA text, and negotiating a supplemental environmental agreement aimed at offsetting the potential environmental consequences of the trade agreement.


Free Trade Trade Agreement Trade Liberalization Dispute Settlement North American Free Trade Agreement 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • David J. Blair

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