Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1995

Publication Citation

3 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 81 (1995)


Professor Atik argues that NAFTA, in legitimating regulatory differences among the NAFTA parties, represents a repudiation of standard harmonization. He states that while NAFTA and its environmental side agreement "have been described as the 'greenest' trade agreement to date," it marks a significant retreatfrom efforts to harmonize global environmental standards. This rejection is a product of "ajealous retention of sovereignty" by the NAFTA parties, as well as the careful maintenance of the parties' distinct production roles and specialities. Thus, Professor Atik argues that a convergence of standards will likely remain elusive within NAFTA. Both highstandard and low-standard parties may prefer the maintenance of differentials. While there may be efficiency gains from nonharmonized standards, other interests, including environmental quality, may well be compromised Institutions charged with enforcement will further legitimate differentiated environmental standards. Professor Atik states that at least for the time being, Mexico will be able to maintain lower environmental standards than either Canada or the United States and Mexico. He does conclude, however, that despite NAFTA's maintenance of divergent standards, the agreement does allow for the joint determination of environmental standards, and institutions established by NAFTA are available to both monitor and adjust standards (especially Mexico's) to appropriate levels. Clearly, as Professor Atik points out, NAFTA represents a "new experiment in regional organization, "which may result in a "cleaner" United States, but leaves Mexico's environmental fate in greater doubt.