This kit was produced by
Common Frontiers, a multi-sectoral working group which confronts, and proposes an
alternative to, the social, environmental and economic effects of economic integration in
the Americas. We do this through a combination of research, analysis and action, in
cooperation with labour, human rights, environmental, church, development and economic and
social justice organizations.
The kit was produced as a
collective effort of many people, some of them acknowledged in the credits. While some of the material in the kit is now dated, it is still useful. An update is coming.
- There were three hemispheric gatherings in Canada on the FTAA between 1999 and 2002; so there was
a growing number of people who needed briefing about the issues.
- We have formed a
Hemispheric Social Alliance with other organizations throughout the Americas and therefore
need an active communications program to keep each other informed.
- The lack of media coverage
of the bottom up process means that we need an active publications program to project our
messages to ourselves and others.
- There are very few
materials about trade agreements like the FTAA, especially in a popular format
accessible to many people.
The kit is intended for
use by unions, churches, international NGOs, anti-poverty groups, women's groups,
environmental groups, human rights organizations and other popular sector groups
interested in how trade and social and economic integration issues impact on their issues.
The overview or general
pieces can be used by all sectors. They include:
- The overview: Another
big deal?" - a history and timetable showing how the FTAA fits into other trade and
rights agreements, outlining both the government/business official agenda and
- The Hemispheric Social
Alliance - its origins, vision and action program.
- A poster: Whose
Agenda. One side can be posted; the other side contains some useful resources and
- Alternatives for the
Americas. This piece describes an active process and working document, designed to
stimulate further debate and education on an alternative vision of the FTAA, focusing on
- For immediate action: A
tear-off postcard to the Prime Minister.
Each sectoral piece
- how the key issues in the
sector are connected to trade issues;
- what has been done so far
to try to get the needs of the sector into the FTAA;
- action suggestions and
- In ongoing education
use the sectoral piece to
explain to your members why your union/organization needs to be involved in trade issues.
- As handouts/Reading
use the overview:
another big deal? and the sectoral piece relevant to your group to introduce
your members to the ftaa and other trade agreements.
- In actions around key
moments in the FTAA process
get groups to send those
postcards to the prime minister
- In related campaigns
(jubilee, the womens march etc.)
- As educational material in
your workplace or community centre
post the poster
- In workshops and
as conference kit material
as background to a role
play or other participatory exercise. (See the IDEA box)
- As preparation for a media
Purpose: Examine how trade
affects local issues.
participants into five groups. Assign each a specific sector (e.g. labour, business, low
income groups, environment groups, Mexican maquila workers). Give each group some
background on the key issues of the sector. (Use some of the materials from the kit). Each
group identifies two rights/protections they need in trade agreements.
Have the groups visit a
trade fair where three resource people with expertise in the MAI, FTAA and
NAFTA are present. Each group interviews the resource people to find out whether the
rights/protections it needs are included. After a reasonable time, summarize with
participants: i) the differing interests which need protection ii) whose interests are
served in the present trade deals. (With thanks to Judith Marshall, USWA Humanity Fund)
Produced by: Common
Coordination and Editing:
Common Frontiers Publications Committee:
( Patty C. Barrera, Coordinator; Annie Labaj, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW); Judith
Marshall, United Steelworkers of America (USWA); John Dillon, Ecumenical Coalition for
Economic Justice (ECEJ). and Bev Burke.
typesetting: Margie Adam, Artwork
Judith Marshall, Humanity Fund USWA
Patty C. Barrera, Common Frontiers
Bev Brown, National Anti-Poverty Coalition
Ken Traynor, Environmental Law Association
Jo Gunn, Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops)
John Dillon, ECEJ
Jan Eastman, Canadian Teachers Federation
Sheila Katz, Canadian Labour Congress
Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Canada)
Agreement (Between Canada and the United States)
Area of the Americas
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
Agreement on Investment
American Free Trade Agreement
of American States
for Economic Cooperation and Development
Regional Organization of Workers
Adjustment Programs (defined below)
Nations Human Rights Committee
Organization (replaced the GATT in 1995 as regulator of world trade)
Agenda: The collection of social rights, measures and standards in
contrast to the trade agenda, which focusses only on commercial measures such as tariffs,
non-tariff barriers, investment, and subsidies.
Social Charter: A set of social rights for citizens agreed between a group of countries that
are removing trade and investment barriers between them, the aim of which is to ensure
that standards rise rather than falling when countries with different levels of labour and
environment protection form a trading area.
Social Clause: A legal clause which would be inserted into the text of regulations in a trade
agreement, and according to which trading partners would agree to respect basic worker
rights and abide by minimum labour standards.
Structural Adjustment: Implementation of a set of neo-liberal economic policies, including
deregulation of trade and commerce and cutting back on the role of the state.