1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation (2000 - 2009)

Negotiating Alternative Trade Regimes in Latin America

  • Project from: 2007 to 2008


This project examines how, in the context of the so-called “shift to the left” and the problematic record of the "Washington Consensus" in the region, Latin American countries are attempting to negotiate and consolidate alternative trade regimes. These cover a broad ideological spectrum and represent different strategies of development and regional integration. They include, for example, the Free Trade Areas (e.g. ALCA and DR-CAFTA), the Common Southern Market (MERCOSUR), the Andean Community (CAN), and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Spearheaded by the United States and supported by various economic elites in the region, the Free Trade Areas are founded upon continuity with the process of economic liberalization that has taken form in and through the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and World Bank). Combining principles of free trade and south-south cooperation, MERCOSUR and CAN involve several Southern Cone and Andean countries, respectively. Championed by Venezuela and supported by an increasing number of “progressive” civil society groups and more left-leaning governments, ALBA represents the “alter-globalization” agenda that challenges directly US and neoliberal hegemony in the region.

Research is being conducted in four countries pursuing different models of trade policy and regional integration: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Nicaragua. In each of the countries researchers will examine how the interplay of ideas, power, institutions and structural conditions has resulted in different trade regimes; the role of non-state actors in shaping trade and development policy; the influence of anti-free trade sentiment and movements on trade policy; and the implications of different trade regimes for both policy space and inclusive development.

The project results were presented at the 12th EADI General Conference on Global Governance for Sustainable Development, held on 24-28 June 2008 in Geneva, and published thereafter.

This project is funded by a grant from the Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN/RUIG).

Project Team

The project is co-ordinated by Manuel Mejido Costoya, Department of Sociology, University of Geneva, in collaboration with Peter Utting, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and Claude Auroi, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID). Country-level research is being conducted by André Souza dos Santos (Brazil), Santiago Daroca Oller (Bolivia), Manuel Mejido Costoya and Alicia Gariazzo (Chile), and Gloria Carrión Fonseca and Roberto Fonseca López (Nicaragua). Additional support has been provided by Ricardo Meléndez, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).