A Trading Block
Environmental and labor groups are gearing up for a new battle over trade next month in Buenos Aires and Quebec City, where countries are meeting to discuss the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The pact, which would create a 34-nation trading bloc in the Western Hemisphere, is a priority for the Bush administration. The administration and Latin American governments think the pact could lead to big bucks for all countries involved, but they oppose including environmental and labor standards in the agreement. Environmentalists and labor supporters, however, fear a race-to-the-bottom, with multinationals settling in countries that have the lowest standards or no standards at all. They are planning Seattle-like protests in Buenos Aires and Quebec City, hoping to turn out tens of thousands of demonstrators.