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Challenging the FTAA, NAFTA & the WTO:
A Community Research Toolkit

September 2003

What is the FTAA & NAFTA?


U.S., Mexico
& Canada sign
NAFTA implemented
Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico
calling NAFTA a "death sentence" for
Mexico's indigenous people
replaces GATT
WTO meetings
disrupted in Seattle
WTO meets in Cancun
FTAA meets in Miami

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico & Canada gives companies within these countries preferential access to each other's markets. The agreement includes phasing out "tariffs" or taxes and a reduction of "non-tariff barriers" within 5 to 15 years. Investment rules also became "liberalized" meaning companies from one NAFTA country had more "rights" to invest in another NAFTA country than before. One impact of NAFTA was initially felt when companies from the U.S. and Canada closed their factory doors and moved production to Mexico in search of cheaper labor costs. This created a flux of assembly factories or maquilas along the US/Mexico border, inundating an already fragile infrastructure with heavy pollution and low-wage work. Today these workers have again been displaced as companies follow yet more opportunities to move in search of cheaper labor costs created by global trade policy.

The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)
The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is an extension of NAFTA to all the countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. This agreement is currently in negotiations. The U.S. has the goal of reaching agreement by 2005, despite resistance from countries in the Caribbean and South America who argue that they are not yet ready for the major instability that such an agreement will create for their peoples.

The World Trade Organization (WTO)
The World Trade Organization is the global organizational body created to oversee and arbitrate international trade policy. This organization, by no means an unbiased body, is the result of years of planning through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a series of negotiations that sought to make trade and foreign direct investment easier for corporations by limiting the regulatory powers of national, state and local governments.

A project of the DataCenter's Economic Justice Program.

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What Is the FTAA, NAFTA & WTO?
State & National Economic Picture
Trade Legislation & Disputes
NAFTA Job Losses In Your Community
Environmental Injustice & Health Impacts
Privatization of Public Services
Region-Specific Industry Information
Militarism & Migration
Privatization of Education
Popular Education Tools
Calendar of Actions
Community Networks & Other Resources

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