Supporters of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) portrayed all these as mere extensions of trade liberalizing initiatives familiar in the United States since the dark days of the Great Depression. In keeping with this marketing strategy, they insisted on labeling them “free trade agreements”—a comforting term for many.
In fact, these agreements went far beyond the traditional purpose of free trade agreements: reducing quotas and tariff barriers to international trade in nonagricultural goods. Their central innovations lay in (1) the creation of new international property rights for foreign investors and intellectual innovators; (2) the creation of new legal restrictions on government regulations; and (3) the application of traditional GATT principles (that is, “national treatment” and “most favored nation”) to trade in agricultural goods and all categories of services....
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