With FTAA Talks Shut Down, Critical 9/30 Market Access Deadline Set at MiamiMinisterial Passes

Sept. 30, 2004

Only Certainty for FTAA’s Future Is That the December 2004 FTAA Completion Deadline Won’t Be Met as Disagreement Continues Over Scope, Vision of Any Hemispheric Integration Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The depth of the opposition to a NAFTA-style hemispheric integration was highlighted today as a vital September 30 deadline for conclusion of market access negotiations in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) set at the 2003 Miami FTAA Ministerial passed, Public Citizen said. Deep disagreements about the potential agreement’s scope brought talks to a standstill in the spring of 2004. The FTAA is a proposed expansion of NAFTA to 31 countries.

“Time has clarified that at the Miami FTAA Ministerial, the only true agreement among nations was to avoid an embarrassing public collapse of the FTAA   right on the heels of the Cancun WTO summit’s implosion,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “After 10 years of observing NAFTA’s effects, expansion of the NAFTA model faces broad resistance throughout the Americas. The Bush administration tries to blame other nations for the collapse of FTAA talks, but NAFTA expansion also is a political non-starter in the United States, where the administration does not have the votes in Congress to pass the Central American NAFTA expansion (CAFTA) that was signed four months ago by the U.S. trade representative and trade ministers from Central American countries.”

FTAA proponents now argue that the July 2004 Framework Agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be a catalyst for movement in the hemisphere talks after the U.S. presidential elections if hemispheric disagreements about agriculture trade are resolved at WTO. Yet the WTO talks regarding agriculture and non-agriculture market access face considerable difficulty as nations seek to agree on specifics based on greatly differing interpretations of the general WTO framework text. Even if these issues are resolved, in the FTAA context there remains major disagreement about to what degree the FTAA should bind countries to comply with a set of uniform investment, services, intellectual property and procurement policies.

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