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Joining forces for integration

Latin American integration through trade and the future of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) largely depend on U.S. priorities, according to Harvard University president Larry Summers.

Speaking at IDB headquarters during the presentation of the book Integrating the Americas: FTAA and Beyond, a joint-venture between the Bank and Harvard University, Summers said that if the U.S. focuses its foreign policy on resisting external threats during the next decade, then Latin American affairs and the FTAA would not be a priority.

Summers highlighted the successful collaboration between the IDB and Harvard University on the book he was presenting. He also encouraged Latin American countries to focus on reaching trade agreements and integration.

IDB trade economist Antoni Estevadeordal remarked that Integrating the Americas: FTAA and Beyond is a timely book that represents a breathtaking tour of many issues related to the integration process in the region. "It aims to contribute to understanding how the political economy of development in the hemisphere can move forward. Not just over FTAA, but over a much broader range of economic questions."

It may be naïve to expect that the perspectives and solutions offered in the book will be reflected in the final FTAA agreement, noted Estevadeordal. But these analyses collectively reveal that international trade agreements have become policy tools with implications well beyond traditional trade concerns. The FTAA will intersect with and shape economic, social, and institutional arrangements throughout an entire continent and it is crucial to understand its benefits as well as its challenges.

Integrating the Americas: FTAA and Beyond covers a wide range of topics, including the historical and global context for the FTAA, its macroeconomic implications, major negotiating and political economy issues, the impact of the FTAA on trade, investment, productivity, wages and income distribution, as well as more controversial issues such as labor, environment, social protection, adjustment and democratic governance.

To purchase the book, contact Harvard University Press at or call 1-800-448-2242 or fax 1-800-962-4983.

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