Rules of Origin--NAFTA’s Heart but FTAA’s Heartburn
Part I of this Article provides a brief overview of international trade, including the history, culture and diplomatic relationships among the three NAFTA partners, and provides the background and understanding so important in international law for interpreting and implementing NAFTA's provisions. This historical overview illustrates the complexities involved in negotiating trade agreements when only three nations are involved, and discusses the increasing complexity when that number grows by a factor often. Part II focuses on the NAFTA rules of origin. It provides specific examples that demonstrate their importance to a free trade area, their operation and how special interests have helped fashion them. This Part also illustrates how the NAFTA rules of origin work, and sets the foundation for the argument that they cannot serve as the model for a future FTAA. Part III identifies the obstacles that FTAA negotiators will face if they try to construct their own rules of origin. The Article concludes that the success of any agreement ultimately will rest upon the ability of nations to put aside individual political interests and economic anomalies in favor of hemispheric interests and truly free trade.