The development of free trade agreements in North America has challenged the capacities of existing political organizations to play representative and responsive roles. This article evaluates the comparative roles of political parties, NGOs, and the state in regional debates leading to the development of NAFTA. Changes following from those interactions are now reflected in ongoing negotiations over FTAA. In the latter context, the Canadian experience indicates an apparent strengthening role for NGOs in the formulation of free trade policies along with signs of resistance to this increased participation among decision-makers. Alongside these internal developments are those involving the building of cross-border ties. While states (and thus the representatives of presently governing parties) continue to control the trade agenda, more broadly participatory forms of consultation on trade agreements are developing, gradually enhancing the representative role of NGOs as well as providing new opportunities for parties (in and out of power) to improve their own performance.

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International Political Science Review
Institute of Political Economy

Macdonald, L, & Schwartz, M.A. (Mildred A.). (2002). Political Parties and ngos in the Creation of New Trading Blocs in the Americas. International Political Science Review, 23(2), 135–158. doi:10.1177/0192512102023002002