In international negotiations with seemingly much stronger states, astute developing countries can sometimes successfully defend their national interests and even win major victories. Bernal, a seasoned trade negotiator, explains how, during the negotiations over an interregional free-trade agreement signed in 2008, a number of Caribbean countries extracted important concessions from the EU. Decades earlier, as Siekmeier ably documents, a revolutionary government in Bolivia managed a similar feat in its bilateral dealings with the United States.
Bernal’s book reveals how, in negotiating with some of their former colonial masters, the small economies of the West Indies persuaded the EU to grant immediate duty-free entry to Caribbean goods and services while allowing the islands to maintain some of their own protectionist barriers for up to 25 years. Moreover, European countries pledged foreign aid to help the Caribbean states improve their international competitiveness. Bernal served as a chief negotiator for the Caribbean side and makes use of his insider’s knowledge to explain what his team required to succeed: a realistic assessment of trends in the global economy; a sophisticated understanding of the other side’s internal dynamics; an adequately resourced secretariat to administer the negotiating team’s affairs; courageous, well-briefed, and unified political leadership; and outreach to the private sector and civil society groups in order to build political support for the agreement. In addition to being of interest to theorists of international relations and trade policy, this in-depth case study by a scholar-practitioner should serve as a valuable textbook for negotiators.
In 1952, in the midst of the Cold War, social upheaval in Bolivia led to the nationalization of the country’s tin mines and to extensive land redistribution. The victorious Bolivian revolutionaries persuaded the Eisenhower administration not to fear their regime -- averting the type of hostile U.S. intervention that violently ousted Guatemala’s left-leaning government two years later -- but rather to lavish it with massive foreign assistance. Siekmeier reveals how the Bolivian leadership shrewdly played on Washington’s desire to demonstrate that it could partner successfully with socially progressive governments and manipulated Washington’s anticommunist impulses by warning that the new government’s collapse could create opportunities for unpredictable far-left forces. Siekmeier’s narrative includes an interesting profile of the charming Bolivian diplomat Victor Andrade, who cunningly translated his nation’s politics into terms that Washington officials and pundits could comprehend.
In contrast to the David-versus-Goliath stories that Bernal and Siekmeier tell, Spalding’s book describes the negotiations for the free-trade agreement among the United States, five Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR, signed in 2004) as a more traditional case in which a stronger party imposed its conditions on weaker ones. Nevertheless, Spalding recognizes that the Central American negotiating team scored a number of points, despite suffering from internal divisions and from the absence of a strong, unified secretariat. Spalding also notes that the success of economic reforms, which are often linked to international trade deals, depends to a great degree on domestic politics. Recently, governments in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have shifted away from market fundamentalism and toward various forms of state activism -- a welcome development, in Spalding’s view. Drawing on over 200 interviews and combining various scholarly approaches, Spalding shows how international economic links have altered domestic political landscapes in Central America and demonstrates how the influence of landowners has declined as new productive centers have emerged, a process that has blurred the lines between external and internal economic forces.