The Political Economy of North American Free Trade


348 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1115-6
DDC 337.1'7




Edited by Ricardo Grinspun and Maxwell A. Cameron
Reviewed by Phillip J. Wood

Phillip J. Wood is an associate professor of political studies at
Queen’s University.


Unlike the Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which concentrated
attention on the negative consequences for Canada and reinforced the
nationalist perspective on trade and integration, the 1993 North
American Free Trade Agreement is forcing critics to take a broader
approach. This collection of essays, which is the outgrowth of a
workshop held in Toronto at the end of 1991, both exemplifies this new
diversity and represents an important step in the development of
continental, as opposed to national, political economy.

The book’s five sections examine NAFTA from a variety of
perspectives. Section 1 investigates the neoclassical economic
justifications of the deal and finds them to be abstract, of dubious
empirical value, and predicated on the dominance of transnational
corporate interests in the integration process. Sections 2 through 4
analyze the process of integration from the Canadian, Mexican, and
American perspectives. Authors in all three sections argue that NAFTA is
far more than a trade deal: if left unchallenged, it will lead to a much
more significant degree of downward social, political, environmental,
and economic equalization and integration. These essays conclude that
many of the consequences of accepting the corporate integration strategy
are the same in all three countries, that the nationalist response is in
large measure akin to blaming the (other) victim, and that the
alternative is not protection but cooperative action around a different,
progressive, integration strategy. Finally, Section 5 addresses two of
the industrial sectors most profoundly affected by the
agreement—namely, oil and the automobile sector.

The great value of this collection is its diversity. While it will no
doubt become required reading in a variety of college- and
university-level courses, it is sufficiently topical and jargon-free to
become part of a more important public debate.


“The Political Economy of North American Free Trade,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,