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  1. Free Trade or Sustainable Trade? An Ecological Economics Perspective Jonathan M Harris

  2. What Is Free Trade? • Harris: In practice, it is “simply the international application of an unregulated free-market system” • “Holy trinity of concepts embodied in traditional economic thought” • Economic growth • Technological progress • Free Trade

  3. Criticisms • Unrealistic • Constant economic growth is impossible • Increase in pollution • Limitations • Short-term • Consumption gains as the sole measure of social welfare

  4. Short-Term? “Gives no consideration to longer-term issues of sustainability, growth, and the social and institutional impacts of trading patterns”

  5. Enemy of Sustainability? “According to the logic of ‘free trade’, environmental legislation that restricts or taxes the flow of traded commodities… can be challenged as a barrier of trade”

  6. Exceptions to trade rules for measures relating to conservation of exhaustible resources UNREALISTIC GATT Article XX

  7. Sustainability requires control over the market Free Trade lets the market decide The Real Problem: Sustainability vs. Free Trade

  8. Harris’s Circle • Sustainability first means free trade second • Free trade cannot be the second priority • It is unrealistic to keep it as the top priority

  9. What About a Compromise?

  10. Failure to resolve differences in opinions among delegates No proposals for modification of WTO rules VERDICT: FAIL WTO Committee on Trade and Environment 1996

  11. Current Ideas Broaden Article XX WTO recognition of multinational environmental agreements Trade measures

  12. Why Compromise Can’t Work • Free trade requires constant growth • Environmental protection would disrupt this Conclusion: Free trade cannot be the basis of sustainability

  13. The Environmental Kuznets Curve Principle (EKC) Environmental damage increases initially Starts to diminish after the nation hits a “Turning Point”

  14. Flaws • Tests of this are limited • “Turning Point” is highly variable • “Turning Point” is often higher than suspected

  15. Global “Turning Points” Nitrogen Oxides 2079 Sulfur Dioxide 2085 Suspended Particulate Matter 2089

  16. Further Issues of Free Trade • Rising Inequity • Undermining Community Organizations

  17. Rising Inequity

  18. Undermines Unions

  19. The NAFTA Agreement (1993) • Praised • Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) • North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC)

  20. The Truth About the CEC Little more than a statement of good intentions


  22. “Free” Trade Intellectual Property Rights & Bioengineering = Developed nations and multinationals Vs Developing nations

  23. Conclusions • Future of Sustainability • Future of NAFTA • The Future.

  24. Future of Sustainability Strategies included in trade policies and agreements • Both globally and locally

  25. Future of NAFTA • Expansion of current policies • More effective sanctions

  26. The Future “Freer Trade” ends Trade evaluated socially and ecologically • Reflected by global and regional policy