In This Review

Western Hemisphere Economic Integration
Western Hemisphere Economic Integration
By Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Jeffrey J. Schott
Institute for International Economics, 1994, 279 pp

As one has come to expect from Hufbauer and Schott, this new book on the prospects for western hemisphere economic integration is timely, well written, accessible to non-economists, and admirably clear-headed. The authors discuss the agenda and structure for hemispheric negotiations and what impact a Western Hemisphere Free Trade Area would have on trade and investment elsewhere, especially in the Asia-Pacific rim. They see free trade as inevitably complicated by labor and environmental standards and concerns over human rights and democracy. The most likely path toward economic integration, they believe, will be through sub-regional integration, followed by hub-and-spoke agreements between the North American Free Trade Agreement signatories and subregions. The authors strongly oppose bilateral arrangements, which they believe will be divisive. Free trade areas in the hemisphere and the Asia-Pacific rim should be complementary, they argue, and they point out that several Latin American countries, especially Chile, Peru, and Brazil, have healthy exports to Asia. The authors do not believe that a WHFTA will promote the devolution of world trade into competing blocs. Though the book could not take account of later developments such as the Summit of the Americas in Miami and the Mexican peso devaluation crisis, it remains an essential primer for the debates ahead.