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Public Policy and Administration


Kevin Fandl


Little is known about the impact of nontrade issues on developing countries entering trade agreements. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) represents an attempt to set high-standard trade rules for participating countries in the Asian-Pacific region that require the inclusion of wide-ranging nontrade issues in the TPPA. This general qualitative study explored the economic, social, and political consequences for developing countries by including nontrade issues in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The overarching research question addressed whether nontrade issues in FTAs detract developing countries from achieving their trade goals. This study was guided by the theory of comparative advantage propounded by Ricardo and the focus on trade in goods and services. This general qualitative study used multiple sources of data collection including documentation-primary and secondary online and digital archival data, bibliographies, textbooks, and scholarly trade journals; researcher's notes; and interviews of 15 participants (13 economists and 2 trade unionists). All data were coded using open, selective, and axial coding followed by Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis procedure. Data analysis revealed 4 themes that crystallized the findings within the context of the research; the role, ramifications of nontrade issues, trade barriers, and the distraction of developing countries from achieving their goals-tariff reductions, market access, jobs, and economic growth. The key finding of this study was the interest of participants in wages, health, and safety of workers in FTAs. The implications for positive social change include recommendations for welfare enhancement gained by trade policymakers' understanding of the consequences of nontrade issues in FTAs.

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