Trade Policymaking in the Real World: Elites’ Conflicting Worldviews and North American Integration

MH Fairbrother

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research on trade policymaking often fails to recognize important disagreements between economists, on the one hand, and economic and political elites, on the other. As a consequence, many studies overstate the prevalence of economists’ neoclassical trade theory among businesspeople and politicians, and its intellectual influence on the practice of trade negotiations and policymaking. While economists, politicians, and businesspeople often do support the same (neoliberal) agreements and policies, the worldviews motivating and embodied in their endorsements are consistently different. Economists’ formalized neoclassical theory fully endorses international market liberalism, primarily on the basis of expected benefits for consumers, and substantially de-emphasizes conflicts of interest across nations. Businesspeople’s and politicians’ more informal and practical support for ‘free trade’ agreements primarily values them for their benefits to producers, and frequently evokes visions of win–lose competition among nations. Empirically, I defend these arguments using qualitative data from a comparative-historical study of the formation of the 1989 Canada–US Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
Translated title of the contributionTrade Policymaking in the Real World: Elites’ Conflicting Worldviews and North American Integration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319 - 347
Number of pages29
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge
Other identifier: 14664526

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