USTR To Lead FTAA Charge in Miami
Trade pact would encompass 34 countries and 800,000,000 people
WASHINGTON - 11/17/03 - US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will lead the US effort at this week's trade ministerial in Miami to advance the creation of a hemispheric Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
"Free trade means opening markets and promoting opportunity, prosperity and hope for all our peoples," said Zoellick in a statement. The United States is deeply committed to creating a hemispheric marketplace through a comprehensive FTAA?our shared hemispheric vision involves bringing down tariffs and barriers and cutting red tape so that we can lower prices at home and sell more US goods and services abroad."
The FTAA, Zoellick added, "offers a vision of hemispheric trade, prosperity and democracy that dates back to the 1820s. So it is not surprising that it involves addressing tough issues and meeting difficult challenges. The Miami FTAA meetings will not finalize the agreement, but should put us on the right track to complete these historic negotiations."
The proposed FTAA would encompass 34 countries in an 800,000,000-person marketplace, including the US.?It was formally "launched" at the 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, and is scheduled to be completed by January, 2005.
Prior to the formal Ministerial, Vice Ministers will meet for the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) conference ending?November 18 to prepare the draft Miami Ministerial Declaration. The Ministers will work to issue a statement that provides direction to the final phase of negotiations.
Zoellick, and US Commerce Secretary Don Evans, will be in Miami on November 18 and 19 to meet with their counterparts and representatives from the business and civil sectors, followed by the official Ministerial on November 20-21.
The US and Brazil assumed the co-chairmanship of the FTAA negotiations in November, 2002, and the US hosted two "mini-ministerials" among a representative grouping of countries, most recently in suburban Virginia last November 8, "to facilitate discussion among ministers."
Within the Western Hemisphere, the US recently finalized an FTA with Chile, and is negotiating an FTA with five Central American nations - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Washington has announced its intention to begin negotiations with the Dominican Republic in early 2004.
The previous ministerial was held in Quito, the capital of the previous chair, Ecuador. The next ministerial will be held in Brazil.
There are nine negotiating groups in the FTAA process, each drafting a separate chapter of the agreement - market?access; investment; services; government procurement; dispute settlement; agriculture; intellectual property rights; subsidies, dumping, and countervailing duties; and, competition policy.
In addition to the US, there are 33 FTAA countries involved in the discussions - Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
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