As industrial globalization continues to surge, the impact of free trade on a global economy has remained one of the most debated topics in the sociopolitical arena. With the swelling popularity of the neo-liberal approach among economists and policy makers, it's crucial to keep the social, political, and environmental consequences of unrestricted trade at the forefront of the discussion.
One of the most recent neo-liberal projects, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is an example of how the term free trade can bear distinct and contradictory meanings. Examining and clarifying the complex dimensions of NAFTA and its consequences sits at the core of this special issue of The Annals, which extends to offer in-depth analyses of specific countries and regions in Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
Reflecting an interdisciplinary perspective from a group of distinguished scholars, the papers in this timely and thought-provoking issue are divided into three major sections:
I. Political and Economic Dimensions of Free Trade
Offering a bird's eye perspective on the global landscape, this first section provides readers with a solid framework to understand the concepts and applications of neo-liberal policies.
II. NAFTA, Labor, and the Nation State
Focusing on the relationship between labor and the state, these papers look at the causes and implications of economic globalization on economic inequality, civil society, and indigenous movements.
III. Regionalization and Primary Goods Extraction
What effects do neo-liberal projects have on agricultural, mining, and other primary resources? This final section reviews the environmental impact of a global economy.
As the neo-liberalism approach continues to gain momentum, economists, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists must stay persistent in sustaining the debate over free trade tactics and their consequences. Providing an overall framework of the global landscape along with specific consequences of free trade, this issue of The Annals is a must-read for scholars and policy makers alike.