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Negotiating Alternative Trade Regimes in Latin America: the Cases of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Nicaragua

Small Grant


Free Trade Agreements


This project examines how, in the context of the recent “shift to the left” and the less-than-perfect track record of the "Washington Consensus" in the region, Latin American countries are attempting to negotiate alternative trade regimes, which represent, at the same time, different strategies of regional integration: namely, the Free Trade Areas (e.g., the Free Trade Area of the Americas – ALCA, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement – CAFTA), the Common Southern Market (MERCOSUR), and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Spearheaded by the United States and supported by the majority of the economic elites in the region, the Free Trade Areas are founded upon continuity with that process of economic liberalisation that has taken form in and through the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and IBRD).  Combining principles of free trade and south-south cooperation, MERCOSUR is lead by several Southern Cone countries, namely Brazil and Argentina. Championed by Venezuela and supported by an increasing number of “progressive” civil society groups, ALBA represents the “alter-globalisation” agenda as manifested in the World Social Forum, for example.

Does the confrontation between these alternatives sound the death knell of the project of uniting the economies of the Americas into a single free trade area and mark the beginning of a proliferation of bilateral agreements that will span the ideological spectrum?  Or can the autochthonous trade regimes, grounded in a more comprehensive (cultural and social) logic of integration, such as MERCOSUR or the Andean Community (CAN), perhaps serve as a via media between the Free Trade Areas and ALBA?

Research for this GIAN-supported project will be conducted in four countries which face different internal dynamics and represent distinct models of trade policy and regional integration: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Nicaragua.  In each of the countries researchers will examine how the interaction between civil society organizations, trans-national business interests, and...

The grant provided by the GIAN for this project totals SFr 50,000

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Project Team

Prof. Claude Auroi , Principal Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

Ms Gloria Carrion , Principal Member.

Mr André Souza dos Santos , Principal Member, Graduate Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) .

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