Professor Clarkson began with a general discussion about how NAFTA can be seen as a supra-constitutional
system that impinges on national systems. Under NAFTA states do not have to change their rules and norms
until a foreign company successfully argues that we have violated the rules. A further consideration is that
norms in one international regime may be in conflict with norms in another international regime.
Sanford Gaines spoke of the role trade agreements play in international relations. Mexico was the initiating
party in seeking the NAFTA. However, the US and Canada wanted the agreement as well to secure a process of
reform in Mexico that was already taking place. However, it is also important to realise that trade agreements
are not the “be all and end all” in economic policy- Many changes, such as deregulation in Mexico, have more to
do with domestic policy than free trade.
Dr. Ostry felt that the NAFTA was not a good model for the rest of the world. It involves one hegemon and two
essentially minor countries. Dr. Ostry also spoke broadly about the recent history of trade negotiations. The
Uruguay Round involved a grand bargain where in return for concessions regarding agriculture and
labour-intensive goods, the South accepted the presence of issues such as services and intellectual property on
the negotiating table. In some case, developing countries faced major transformations which they were not
capable of undertaking.
Scott Vaughan spoke of the role of civil society. He sated that civil society has been largely concerned with
procedural issues. He also pointed out that civil society played a large role in getting the environmental side
agreement. He said that civil society plays a large role in the CEC and that every meeting of the CEC is open to
NGOs. Mr. Vaughan also discussed the fact that the WTO currently does not have the mandate or competence
to deal with environmental matters.
In the talk which followed, Jonathan Papoulidis took the discussion back to Dr. Ostry’s earlier totem poll analogy
and pointed out that the real driving force in these developments is power. The larger question is which model
will be the driving force in future development. Mr. Vaughan pondered the role of environmental law in the
international system and stated that the real question is whether a body of international environmental law can
really coordinate itself in order to get things done. Professor Gaines pointed out that concern for the
environment still has not affected power structures, pointing to the fact that the EPA head in the US still does
not hold a cabinet-level position. Professor Clarkson suggested that the NAFTA has done nothing but exacerbate
US power over Canada and Mexico. Dr. Ostry described the situation in India, pointing out that India does have
environmental standards in place, just not the capacity to implement them. She also suggested that developing
countries have yet to embrace the neo-liberal economic model, although they have rejected the old import
substitution model that was once favoured.