Building a Partnership: The Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement


194 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55238-032-7
DDC 382'.973071




Edited by Mordechai Kreinin
Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom and The History of Fort St. Joseph, and the co-author of
Invisible and Inaudible in Washington: American


Whatever one’s thoughts on the Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement
(CANUSTA), NAFTA, and the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas,
this is a marvelous book. In the autumn of 1998, as CANUSTA approached
its 10th anniversary, Michigan State University (MSU) hosted a
conference of both academics and those who had been involved in the
negotiations. Mordechai Kreinin, Distinguished Professor of Economics at
MSU, himself a participant, edited the papers and the text of a panel
discussion that resulted in this book.

Peter McPherson, president of MSU since 1993, served as deputy
secretary of the United States Treasury from 1987 to 1989. In three
introductory pages, he provides an incredibly precise and accurate
summary of the context in which negotiations took place, of the
pressures brought to bear on both American and Canadian negotiators, and
of the negotiating process.

Other conference participants who took part in the 1988 negotiations
included James Baker III, Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration and the Secretary of State for George Bush; Derek Burney,
Canadian ambassador to the United States from 1989 to 1993; Clayton
Yeutter, U.S. trade representative during the CANUSTA talks; and Simon
Reisman, chief Canadian negotiator at those talks. Not surprisingly,
these people spoke with pride about what they had done.

A host of Canadian and American professors, from Kreinin himself and
Paul Wonnacott to Richard G. Lipsey and Sylvia Ostry, provided academic
accounts of CANUSTA and its consequences. James Blanchard, governor of
Michigan in 1988 and U.S. ambassador to Canada during the first Clinton
administration, told conference delegates: “We [Americans] are deal
makers. We like to cut deals ... and we may even break them if we
don’t like them later. You guys like to negotiate forever. And you are
still negotiating the relationship of Quebec to the rest of the country.
... You are more orderly and civilized. We are certainly more aggressive
and ... violent.” The book ends with a paper on the probable future of
hemispheric free trade.

Critics of CANUSTA and NAFTA will disagree with many of the writers,
but they will not be able to ignore their arguments. It is in their
interest to know what the Mulroneyites and Reaganites were planning: the
answers are here.


“Building a Partnership: The Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,