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FTAA “Draft” Text Made Public Today Is Missing Vital Information; Has Been Released Too Late

July 3, 2001

FTAA “Draft” Text Made Public Today Is Missing Vital Information; Has Been Released Too Late

Sanitized Text Released After Seven Years of FTAA Talks Shows That the Proposal Would Expand NAFTA Flaws to 31 More Nations

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Some text of a controversial trade agreement government officials promised to release in mid-April was made public today, but the version that was released lacks vital information and represents only a fraction of the entire pact, Public Citizen said today.

Government officials agreed to a one-time release of a negotiating text of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), hoping to eliminate criticism about the secrecy of the FTAA process. However, today?s “release” of a partial text for negotiations, which have been under way behind closed doors for seven years, is likely to fan growing opposition to the proposed pact.

“This was supposed to be a PR move aimed at calming FTAA opposition, but the governments obviously have put out a fragment of the total agreement, one that has been sanitized by eliminating vital information,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen?s Global Trade Watch. “They say that this release is a one-time event and future texts will not necessarily be made be available.

“This one-time public relations stunt will not deceive the broad-based civil society opposition to negotiating a trade agreement, which is being drawn up at the behest of special interests who flatly refuse to address the concerns of environmentalists, labor organizations or consumers when they negotiate secret agreements.”

The FTAA text made available is only 434 pages, even though it is a “bracketed text,” which means that it contains several versions or options for many clauses. Yet public documents reveal that FTAA is slated to cover the same vast array of issues as NAFTA, with nine FTAA negotiating groups working for years. Given that the NAFTA text is more than 700 pages long, the FTAA text released today is only a fraction of the whole agreement.

“Even with a sizeable chunk of the negotiating text remaining concealed from the public, it is clear that FTAA is all about cramming NAFTA-on-steroids down the throats of people from Toronto to Tierra del Fuego,” Wallach said. “FTAA was supposed to represent the improved renegotiation of NAFTA. Instead it worsens and expands NAFTA?s worst provisions.”