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October 18, 2000
In December 1994, at the first Summit of the Americas, the 34 democratically elected Heads of State of the Western Hemisphere agreed to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. The FTAA will eliminate trade and investment barriers on virtually all goods and services traded by member countries, reducing prices for consumers and creating new markets for producers throughout the hemisphere.
Conducting such an ambitious negotiation requires the expertise of many offices and agencies of the U.S. government. The Office of NAFTA and Inter-American Affairs (ONIA) is the office designated in the Department of Commerce responsible for the FTAA negotiations. ONIA staff can help individuals, NGOs and businesses understand the negotiating process and structure.
Contact Info: For comments and questions about the website, please contact the webmaster. To speak with an international trade specialist regarding the Free Trade Area of the Americas, please call (202) 482-0393.
Office of NAFTA & Inter-American Affairs
International Trade Administration * Market Access and Compliance
California, Mexico Sign New Trade Investment, Pacts, 2/6/01 (Washington File)
Official Praises Openness of Summit of Americas Process
(Amb. Lauredo says summit leaders seek input from civil society) (750)
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Democratically-elected leaders of this hemisphere actively seek the input of civil organizations around the world in the Summit of the Americas process, which seeks to improve the lives of the 800 million people in the Americas, says Luis Lauredo, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS).
Lauredo spoke at a February 1 news conference on the results of a just-concluded 3-day Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) meeting, which concerned the Plan of Action being developed for the April 20-22 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. He said "there is no civil society in the world that has not had an opportunity to give input" in the summit process. In fact, Lauredo added, "some people, some countries have been critical of how open" summit organizers have been in soliciting the viewpoint of all groups from the private sector.
"We've gone considerably further than [it] seems could be reasonably expected, to have input from the broadest possible range of civil society," Lauredo said.
Lauredo, the U.S. national coordinator for the summit, spoke at the news conference with Marc Lortie of Canada and Alberto van Klaveren of Chile, who are working in a similar capacity for their governments. The U.S. official, who said "great progress" was made at the SIRG meeting on preparing documents to be signed at the April event in Quebec, asked reporters to "focus" on the idea that democratically-elected leaders represent the "ultimate civil society" who voice the concerns of citizens at gatherings such as the Summit of the Americas.
Lauredo seconded Lortie's contention that civil society has been afforded ample opportunity to contribute ideas for the Quebec Summit and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Lauredo said that while there are constructive members of civil society who will be at Quebec to give their points of view about the summit process, there are others who will come and give a "bad name" to civil society by seeking to disrupt for "disruptiveness' sake." Lauredo said he remembered "vividly" the June 2000 OAS General Assembly meeting in Windsor, Canada, when demonstrators protested against the FTAA, although the OAS is not directly responsible for the FTAA.
Lortie said a major event like the Quebec summit will "inevitably" attract public demonstrations by people with very strong convictions. But Canadian officials, he said, are ensuring that "proper security measures" will be taken to protect the 34 heads of state and their delegations at the event.
"We expect the demonstrations are going to be specific and serene in their tone," Lortie said. In fact, he said, summit officials are regularly meeting with organizers of a counter or "parallel summit" that will be held during the Summit of the Americas "in order to build bridges" between the two groups.
But Lortie said the danger is that "some hooligans take advantage of these international events in a very aggressive way, and unfortunately we have to prepare for that."
Lauredo, who also served as ambassador during the Clinton administration, said that he has not in recent history seen the "intensity" of interest in the Western Hemisphere that President Bush has shown during his presidential campaign and in his first two weeks in office. Lauredo listed a number of meetings that Bush and officials in his administration are holding with regional leaders, including the president's planned February 16 meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Secretary of State Colin Powell's January 25 meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley.
Lauredo said that "all of us working on the U.S. side are very focused, very results-oriented, and very heartened by the intensity throughout the government for the vital strategic relationships" in the Americas, as reflected by Bush and his team.
"What we're witnessing today in the United States government is something that is so self-evident that it is sometimes missed," Lauredo said. "We have finally achieved in this country a sustained engagement in the hemisphere."
On the question of whether the U.S. Congress would grant Bush fast-track authority to negotiate trade pacts, Lauredo said he was "very optimistic" that it would happen, based on the "spirit of bipartisan cooperation" that has "permeated the beginning" of this administration.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
The Sixth America's Business Forum
April 5-6, 2001
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Americas Business Forum offers the U.S. business community the opportunity to submit recommendations to the FTAA negotiators.
The Americas Business Forum (ABF) is the premier private sector hemispheric event on the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The ABF brings together senior business leaders and Trade Ministers from the 34 democratically elected countries of the Western Hemisphere to present recommendations on FTAA negotiations to Trade Ministers on the eve of the FTAA Ministerial.
This year's Forum and Ministerial will be hosted by the Government of Argentina and representatives of its private sector. During the two day forum, workshops will address the nine FTAA negotiating groups (market access, intellectual property, antidumping&countervailing duties/subsidies, government procurement, dispute settlement, services, competition policy, agriculture, investment). Plenary sessions will focus on electronic commerce, civil society and hemispheric integration. Private sector participants will discuss their interests in the FTAA, develop recommendations and present these recommendations at a plenary session with trade ministers at the end of the Forum.
Since the Forum's inception, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. business community have actively participated in the ABF. Secretary Brown founded the ABF and attended the first two in Denver (1995) and Cartagena, Colombia (1996). Secretary Daley participated in the Fora in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1997) and San Jose, Costa Rica (1998) and Deputy Secretary Robert Mallett led the U.S. business contingent at the 1999 Toronto ABF.
U.S. business involvement in the FTAA negotiations is critical to the effectiveness of the process and to our ability to maintain a leadership role in this initiative. This is your opportunity to take part in the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. A key goal of the Forum is to prepare recommendations for Ministers. Forum participants will work from papers submitted by the business community. The deadline for submissions of papers and early registration has been extended to February 11, 2001. Seize the chance to shape international trade policy while it's being formulated. Submit a recommendation and plan to participate in the April 2001 ABF.
For more information on submitting papers, and program and registration forms, you may visit the America's Business Forum web site. Should you have any questions concerning Department of Commerce activities related to this meeting, please contact Maria Cameron, in the Office of NAFTA and Inter-American Affairs, at (202) 482-0621or Maria_Cameron@ita.doc.gov.
Sources for More Information on south America Trade see these links
Common Frontiers-Action Canada Network
305 Gervais Drive Don Mills
Ontario M3C 1Y8 Canada
Voice: (416) 443-9244
Fax: (416) 441-4073
Contact: Patty Barrera
The Development GAP (DGAP)
927 15th Street
Washington, DC 20005
Voice: (202) 898-1566
Fax: (202) 898-1612
Contact: Karen Hansen-Kuhn
Institute for Policy Studies
1601 Connecticut Avenue NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
Voice: (202) 234-9382
Fax: (202) 387-7915
Contacts: John Cavanagh and Sarah Anderson
International Labor Rights Fund
110 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Voice: (202) 544-7198
Fax: (202) 544-7767
Contact: Pharis Harvey
Red Chile por una Iniciativa de los Pueblos (RECHIP)
Seminario 774 Casilla 16784
Santiago 9 Chile
Voice/fax: (562) 341-6597
Contacts: Coral Pey and Fernando Leiva
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
Calle Godard Col. Gpe.
Victoria Mexico, DF 07790 Mexico
Voice/fax: (525) 355-1177
Contact: Bertha Lujan and Victor Osorio
Our Americas (a quarterly newsletter of the Hemispheric Network for Just and Sustainable Trade and Development, available from D'GAP, $10/year).
Inside NAFTA (a biweekly publication by Inside Washington Publishers, P.O. Box 7167, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Subscription rate: $595/year).
World Wide Web
Americas Net: Summit of the Americas Center
Challenging Free Trade in the Americas (a project of Common Frontiers-Action Canada Network)
United States Trade Representative
Vacation Guide & Marketing Services for the Hospitality Industry
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