U.S. Announces November Dates for Miami FTAA Meeting
WASHINGTON - The United States today announced that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Ministerial Meeting will take place on November 20-21, 2003, in Miami, Florida. The negotiations among the 34 FTAA nations to remove tariffs, trade barriers, and promote regional economic integration and development throughout the Western Hemisphere are scheduled to be completed by January 2005 with Brazil and the United States co-chairing this final phase.
"I am proud that Miami will host the next Ministerial Meeting in November, and I want to salute Florida Governor Jeb Bush, his team, and the people of Florida for their efforts to host the best FTAA Ministerial ever," U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick said.
Governor Bush announced the dates for the Miami Ministerial this afternoon in Coral Gables. Last November, at the FTAA Ministerial in Quito, Ecuador, a U.S. proposal to host the next Ministerial in Miami was accepted.
"President Bush reinvigorated the FTAA process in Quebec City in April 2001, and made it a cornerstone of his Administration's efforts to promote free trade, economic integration, opportunity, hope and prosperity in the Americas," said Zoellick. "We are fully committed to realizing the promise of hope and opportunity that the FTAA offers our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, and to providing the kind of bold leadership necessary to create such a dynamic free trade zone."
The FTAA negotiations will enter an important phase on February 15, 2003, when countries are supposed to submit their specific offers to reduce trade barriers in five key areas: agriculture; goods; services; investment; and government procurement. In the coming weeks, the United States will be offering aggressive proposals to slash tariffs and remove trade barriers throughout the region.
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 manymarket access barriers in the region, such as import taxes that are often five times higher than U.S. import taxes.