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Zoellick to Lead U.S. Effort to Advance FTAA in Key Miami Meeting

WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will lead the U.S. effort in Miami November 20 -21 to advance the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) so as to achieve the FTAA's promise of hemispheric economic growth, development and opportunity through a comprehensive agreement that will create a hemispheric marketplace. Commerce Secretary Don Evans is scheduled to join Zoellick in Miami on November 19 - 20.

"Free trade means opening markets and promoting opportunity, prosperity and hope for all our peoples. The United States is deeply committed to creating a hemispheric marketplace through a comprehensive FTAA, and we're proud to host this Ministerial in Miami. Our shared hemispheric vision involves bringing down tariffs and barriers and cutting red tape so that we can lower prices at home and sell more U.S. goods and services abroad," said Zoellick. "The FTAA offers a vision of hemispheric trade, prosperity and democracy that dates back to the 1820's. So it is not surprising that it involves addressing tough issues and meeting difficult challenges. The Miami FTAA meetings will not finalize the agreement, but should put us on the right track to complete these historic negotiations."

"Miami is a wonderful city that has put a lot of work into hosting this meeting. We appreciate Miami's hospitality, and vitality, and I want to thank Governor Jeb Bush, along with the leaders and people of Miami and Florida for their warmth and work," added Zoellick.

Involving 34 countries in an 800 million person marketplace, the FTAA was launched formally at the 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, and is scheduled to be completed by January, 2005.

Prior to the formal Ministerial, Vice Ministers will meet for the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) from November 15 - 18 are preparing the draft Miami Ministerial Declaration. Ministers will work to issue a statement that provides direction to the final phase of negotiations.

Zoellick will be in Miami on November 18 and 19 to meet with his colleagues and to hear from business and civil society representatives, followed by the official Ministerial on November 20 - 21.

In February 2003, the U.S. put forward bold and ambitious offers in the five key areas of the negotiations: consumer and industrial goods; agriculture; services; investment; and, government procurement. The United States and Brazil assumed the co-chairmanship of the FTAA negotiations in November 2002. The United States has hosted two "miniministerials" among a representative grouping of countries, most recently in suburban Virginia on November 8, in order to facilitate discussion among ministers.

The U.S. strategy of competitive liberalization: Opening markets globally, regionally and bilaterally:

While focused on the FTAA, the United States is pursuing trade liberalization globally in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and with bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with other countries. Within the Western Hemisphere, the U.S recently finalized an FTA with Chile, and is negotiating an FTA with five Central American nations (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua). In addition, the U.S. announced its intention to begin negotiations with the Dominican Republic in early 2004.

In his bilateral meetings, Zoellick will discuss ways to advance the FTAA negotiations, review efforts in the WTO, and discuss bilateral trade issues and opportunities with countries involved in FTA negotiations, as well as those in the Western Hemisphere which seek FTAs with the United States.

An important facet of the FTAA is the commitment to addressing the special needs and concerns of small economies. The United States has been a strong supporter of the Hemispheric Cooperation Program (HCP), a trade capacity building program designed to help countries participate in, implement and adjust to trade negotiations. Such programs contribute to more beneficial trade agreements for all trade partners and accelerate poverty elimination and economic growth in developing countries. 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.

FTAA Background:

The previous ministerial was held in Quito, the capital of the previous chair, Ecuador. The next ministerial will be held in Brazil.

There are nine negotiating groups in the FTAA process, each drafting a separate chapter of the agreement. These groups are: market access; investment; services; government procurement; dispute settlement; agriculture; intellectual property rights; subsidies, dumping, and countervailing duties; and, competition policy.

The 34 FTAA countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.