Towards a Sustainable FTAA: DOes Latin America Meet the Necessary Financial Preconditions?
AbstractThis paper focuses on identifying preconditions that will ensure the sustainability of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). It argues that the macro, micro, and political conditions advanced in the literature to measure a country's ability to compete internationally, while necessary, are not sufficient to ensure the success and permanence of a free trade agreement. Instead, two additional financial conditions are needed. The first is that each partner in the free trade area needs to have sustainable public debts as determined by the achievement of credible and sustainable structural fiscal balances. The second is that exchange rate regimes across trading partners should be compatible in the sense that adverse shocks in one country do not generate a policy dilemma in other partners between abandoning their exchange rate system or the free trade area. A preliminary analysis of the evidence in the Latin American and Caribbean region shows the importance of these two preconditions. An analysis of debt sustainability reveals that there are a number of countries in the region that need to deal with potential solvency problems before reaching the status of credible partners in a regional trade arrangement. Argentina is already deemed insolvent, and countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela rank high on the list of countries where the issue of debt sustainability can become a serious problem. Not resolving this before reaching a regional trade agreement can threaten its long-term stability. The examination of the compatibility of exchange rate systems across trading partners is also very revealing. Part of the success of NAFTA since the late 1990s and the "impasse" of Mercosur during 1999-2001 had to do with the choices of exchange rate regimes. In both trade areas the share of trade among the partners is very high, and in NAFTA, this includes significant financial transactions. While Mexico was able to use the flexibility of the exchange rate to improve competitiveness following the sharp decline of portfolio flows from US investors into Mexico following the Asian and Russian crises, Argentina had no mechanisms to deal with an adverse shock from Brazil (such as a depreciation of the real in 1999). From this perspective, the recent move of Argentina towards a more flexible exchange rate system is good news for a sustainable free trade area.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP02-4.
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- F1 - International Economics - - Trade
- F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
- F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Jeffrey J. Schott, 1994. "Western Hemisphere Economic Integration," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 75.
- repec:idb:brikps:7638 is not listed on IDEAS
- Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Végh, 1998. "Fiscal Policy Sustainability: A Basic Framework," Research Department Publications 3070, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
- Jeffrey J. Schott, 2001. "Prospects for Free Trade in the Americas," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 103.
- Eduardo Lora, 2001. "Las Reformas estructurales en América Latina: Qué se ha reformado y cómo medirlo," Research Department Publications 4288, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peterson Institute webmaster).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.