WASHINGTON - As the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
negotiations in Miami this week focused on crafting a comprehensive FTAA that will open
markets and integrate the Hemisphere economically, the U.S. today underscored its
commitment to the Hemispheric Cooperation Program (HCP), a program designed to help
small economies participate in, implement, and adjust to the FTAA.
"The United States is committed to trying to help smaller
economies and those that are less advantaged to be able to get the full benefits of trade with their
neighbors. In order to overcome poverty and to support their development," U.S. Trade
Representative Robert B. Zoellick said. "What the Hemispheric Cooperation Program does is
allow the United States, Canada, private companies, NGOs, and international financial
institutions to try to find innovative ways to combine our overall efforts. It's based on our
belief that we need to make globalization work for developing countries."
"World Bank research shows that income, per capita, in globalized
and developing countries grew more than three times faster than that in non-globalized or
developing countries in the 1990s," added Zoellick.
Trade capacity building helps improve the ability of small and
less developed economies so they can make the necessary changes to open markets and provide
for fair rules. With this in mind, U.S. cooperation efforts are demand-driven and focus on the
three main areas highlighted in the TCB strategies: preparing for trade
negotiations, implementing trade commitments, and adjusting to integration.
In recent years, total U.S. support for trade capacity building in
Latin America and the Caribbean has nearly tripled to $150 million in 2003 from $52
million in 1999. This level exceeds the $147 million highlighted by Zoellick at the Quito
Ministerial. In addition to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides
a significant portion of this increased funding, more than ten other U.S. agencies
deliver cooperation assistance to the hemisphere.
The "FTAA Hemispheric Cooperation Program: A Partnership for the
Future" is available online at www.ustr.gov.
National and/or regional trade capacity building (TCB) strategies,
or needs assessments, serve as the foundation of the Hemispheric Cooperation Program.
These TCB strategies enable a wide range of donors to coordinate with the recipient
countries and each other to ensure that the cooperation provided to the hemisphere is
efficient and effective. Such efforts by all partners contributed to a successful initial
donor-country roundtable meeting October 14-15 in Washington, DC.
The initial donor-country roundtable focused the attention of the
donor community to the HCP and provided recipient countries an opportunity to begin
focusing on cross-cutting TCB needs. This helps recipient countries identify the TCB needs that
are of highest priority within each sub-region. The roundtable also provided the FTAA
countries and donor community an opportunity to begin to mainstream TCB into the
conceptualization and implementation of donors' development assistance strategies and
the countries' national development planning.
In the context of the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement
(CAFTA) negotiations, the experiences of the TCB Working Group, which meets alongside the
negotiating groups, have provided valuable insight to the process of delivering
trade-related cooperation assistance and the importance of countries and donors working together.
The following summaries provide illustrations of ways in which
U.S. support for TCB can be mobilized within each of the three TCB areas.
- With USAID assistance, the Caribbean Community's (CARICOM)
Regional Negotiating Mechanism (RNM) created a Virtual Secretariat that links the 7 RNM
offices with the 15 CARICOM member states' Trade Ministries. The network enables
member countries to collaborate and exchange information on trade-related matters and
coordinate positions for the FTAA negotiations. Ongoing USAID support has facilitated
training and assisted the development of the Virtual Secretariat through a website that
provides the private sector with access to CARICOM documents relevant to the FTAA negotiations.
- USAID is assisting El Salvador's efforts to reap the benefits of
free trade through multiple rural and agricultural diversification programs. Through its
FINTRAC and CLUSA de El Salvador programs, USAID helps farmers and agri-businesses acquire
new technologies, such as drip irrigation, to improve production. This assistance
also builds their capacity to identify, analyze, and seize trade opportunities in new export
- USAID assists small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) in
Jamaica to improve their competitive position in export markets by underwriting the
"Business Clinics for Small Enterprises" education series. The clinics, which are open to more
than 1,200 SMEs, provide hands-on training in finance, management, marketing, and strategic
planning. As a result, Jamaican SMEs are improving business operations and winning new
- The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded a $6.7 million
grant to the Foundation for Peace and Democracy to work with labor ministries, employers, and
workers, and nongovernmental organizations to ensure that information about labor laws and
services are made available to the widest audience possible in Central
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provided a grant to the
Organismo Supervisor de Inversión Privada en Telecomunicaciones (OSIPTEL) to assess the
conditions and level of competition of local, long-distance, wireless, and international
telecom service, as well as cable television service, and the current role of OSIPTEL. In
addition, the grant helps OSIPTEL develop a strategic plan for improving their current
functions, including staff training.