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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.