The Governance of Economic Openness through Trade Regimes: NAFTA as a Model of US Open Regionalism for the Americas

  • Isidro Morales
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


NAFTA was not only conceived to increase trade and investment flows among the partners; it was also devised as a disciplinary regime aiming to reduce non-tariff and non-trade barriers affecting cross-border trade and investment decisions. In other words, NAFTA has established a rules-based trade and investment regime under which economic openness and the mobility of both trade and capital are to be maintained and activated at the trilateral level. By so doing, this regime has instituted the empowerment of market actors vis-à-vis government bureaucracies, and of institutional actors at the inter-state level (i.e. panels and NAFTA-based institutions) in order to ensure the legal sustainability of the regime. The latter play a major role for building confidence and facilitating conflict resolution amongst private parties and government agencies. The common denominator of these ADSMs is that they attempt to protect the rights and interests of private actors, mainly firms involved in trade or business across the region, against discretionary or unjustified policies enacted by public agencies that could breach or impair the Agreement. This was highly desired by Canada and Mexico due to market access problems they have traditionally had with the US. But this was also particularly relevant for the US vis-à-vis Mexico, mainly concerning the pre-NAFTA investment and trade regimes that prevailed in the latter country, in which investors and markets were highly subordinated to government policies.


Trade Regime Issue Area Dispute Settlement Mechanism Final Award Diplomatic Protection 
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Copyright information

© Isidro Morales 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isidro Morales
    • 1
  1. 1.Area of Public Administration and GovernmentInstituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de MonterreyMexico

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