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All-day panel to discuss ramifications of free trade

A diverse, high profile group of panelists from the United States and Latin America will gather in the UNM Law School Moot Courtroom today to discuss the impact of free trade.

The all-day event includes four panel discussions featuring 12 speakers who will look at free trade from a variety of angles, including an evaluation of its social, political and economic ramifications.

The event is part of an ongoing study funded by a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant that was secured by the Latin American and Iberian Institute.

"This is an effort to examine various social consequences of economic integration as we established free trade and reduced barriers, and really looking at what the various consequences of these decisions are," said Bill Stanley, interim director of the Latin American and Iberian Institute and the event's coordinator. "This event is free and we encourage people in our community who care about this issue to join us in this discussion."

The first discussion begins at 8:15 a.m. and will address money management, exchange rates and capital market issues. Geoffrey Bannister, senior economist at the International Monetary Fund; law professor Timothy Canova; and Helson Braga, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil are the panelists, while UNM economics professor Donald Coes will moderate the discussion.

"The number of monetary exchange rates shocks early in the process of implementing NAFTA was very high and this panel will discuss that in general, along with specific examples such as the currency devaluation in Mexico and the financial crisis in Argentina," Stanley said.

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The second panel discussion, which begins at 10:30 a.m., will address equity and labor market effects on free trade. Mehrene Larudee, economics professor at University of Kansas; Raymond Robertson, economics professor at Macalester College; and Pablo Sanguinetti, economics professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires will participate in the discussion. UNM economics professor Melissa Binder will lead the discussion.

After a lunch break, the event resumes at 1:30 p.m. with a discussion about integration and security. Panelists include Paulo Mesquita Neto, executive secretary of the Sao Paulo Institute Against Violence; Col. Joseph Nu┬žez of the National Security and Strategy Department at the U.S. Army War College; and Francisco Rojas Aravena, director of FLACSO Chile. UNM political science professor Mark Peceny will lead the discussion.

The final discussion, scheduled for 3:30 p.m., will address the politics of free trade and the impact it has on the world. Frederick Mayer, public policy studies and political science professor at Duke University; Phil Potter, president of the NAFTA Institute; and UNM political science professor Ken Roberts will lead the discussion. Gary Springer, president of the Hemispheric Resources Politics of integration, will moderate the final talk.

Stanley said the goal of the event is to have open discussion about free trade.

"We chose a very diverse panel with some people in favor of free trade and others very opposed to it, or at least opposed to the way it has been implemented," he said.

The panel discussions are the culmination of a project that began in 1997 with the goal of bringing together scholars from Latin America and the United States to discuss free trade. Graduate students and professors from UNM have conducted research in Latin America with the help of the Hewlett Foundation grant.

"We're just very excited about the wonderful opportunity for discussion that this event represents and can't wait to hear what the speakers have to say, along with the dialogue coming from the very adept audience this type of event will likely draw," Stanley said.

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