On June 25, 2003,
in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the countries participating in the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) held the first ever FTAA-wide Thematic Issue Meeting with
Hemispheric Civil Society. The topic of the meeting was Agriculture
, and was hosted by the Government of Brazil. FTAA
governments met with civil society participants in a roundtable discussion
format, moderated by the Chair of the FTAA Committee of Government
Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society (SOC), Luis Fernando
Peredo Rojas, Vice Minister of Industry from Bolivia. The meeting was open to
the public. Over 150 participants were in attendance, including FTAA country
officials, NGOs, academics, agriculture groups, business associations and
industry representatives, rural and indigenous groups and landless workers
groups from Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. Representatives of the U.N.
Economic Commission on Latin America and the Interamerican Development Bank were
also in attendance.
Civil society participants
from the United States included Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau
(member of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade); John Hardin,
National Pork Producers Council (member of the Agricultural Technical Advisory
Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products); Sarah Thorn, Grocery
Manufacturers Association (member of the Agricultural Technical Advisory
Committee for Trade in Processed Foods); and Stephanie Weinberg, Oxfam America
(click here for photos from the meeting).
representatives made oral presentations and shared a range of views regarding
the opportunities and challenges of the FTAA agriculture negotiations. Civil
society written statements and a report of the Thematic Issue Meeting with
Hemispheric Civil Society will be included in a report to Vice Ministers and
provided to FTAA Trade Ministers at the next Ministerial Meeting in Miami,
Florida in November 2003.