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Free Trade in the Americas: To Quito and
What Will Happen in Quito? On
November 1, trade ministers of the 34 democracies in the Western Hemisphere will meet in Quito, Ecuador to advance negotiations
aimed at completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by January 1, 2005.
Why FTAA? With more than 800
million people throughout the Western Hemisphere, the FTAA will be the largest free-trade area in the world. In the 1990s, U.S. exports to Latin America grew faster than exports to any other region, but U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers still face many market access barriers in the region, such as import taxes
that are often five times higher than U.S. import
Current Status. On May 15,
2002, negotiators began work on market access commitments in agriculture, industrial goods, services, investment and government procurement. Negotiations and discussions are also proceeding in
intellectual property; subsidies, dumping and countervailing duties; competition policy and dispute settlement. Discussions on
ecommerce, smaller economies, and interaction with civil society are also
taking place. The talks are about to enter a key phase of specific, concrete bargaining. For
market access negotiations, countries will table their initial “offers” between December 15, 2002 and
February 15, 2003, with requests for improvements to these offers due before June 15, 2003. Final
revised offers are due by July 15, 2003.
U.S. Goals at Quito. Broadly,
the United States will:
• seek to establish an FTAA trade capacity building program
reflecting the different sizes and levels of development of economies;
• affirm a decision to negotiate tariffs from current applied
rates, not from higher WTO bound rates;
• work to finalize the schedule and negotiating-group chairs for
the next phase of talks;
• seek to continue the FTAA traditions of transparency and public
• assume–in partnership with Brazil–the chair of the FTAA process
leading up to 2005. In this role, the U.S. will propose to host the next FTAA Ministerial
meeting in 2003 in Miami. Helping Less Developed and Smaller Economies to Participate.
As a foundation for the FTAA’s Hemispheric Cooperation Program, we will seek adoption of a U.S.
proposal to develop specific trade capacity building strategies. These plans will help countries of
differing sizes and levels of development negotiate complex subjects, assist them in implementing FTAA
commitments once agreed, and help them make the necessary adjustments to implement an effective
Transparency and Public Participation. The full negotiating text of the FTAA was made available to the public last year (for a copy, go to www.ftaa-alca.org). The
U.S. will seek agreement at Quito that the updated, revised negotiating texts again be made public. A civil
society forum and a business forum will meet in Ecuador just prior to the Ministerial, and we hope that
both groups will have the opportunity to present their recommendations to Ministers.