Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Meeting
WASHINGTON - Efforts to integrate the Western Hemisphere into a free trade area starting in 2005 will continue at a meeting September 30 - October 3 of Vice-Ministers of the region’s 34 democracies. The meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) in Port of Spain,Trinidad and Tobago will lay the final preparatory groundwork for the FTAA Ministerial hosted by the United States in Miami this November that should lay out the agenda for the final stage of negotiations in 2004.
The FTAA has been a top priority of the United States, and an important part of its strategy of opening markets globally, regionally and bilaterally. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier will represent the United States in its capacity as co-chair with Brazil of the FTAA negotiations. Ambassador Ross Wilson, the U.S. Chief FTAA negotiator, will lead the U.S. delegation.
"The FTAA offers the Western Hemisphere an opportunity to open markets, lower barriers, and reduce tariffs and red tape so that all our peoples can prosper. The United States remains highly committed to achieving an ambitious, comprehensive outcome, on schedule," said Ambassador Wilson. "To fully achieve hemispheric integration so this region benefits in the modern, globalized economy, we must be ambitious in linking our markets, products, and services together. Unfortunately, the World Trade Organization missed the opportunity in Cancun to advance global negotiations - the Western Hemisphere mustn’t repeat that mistake."
The following topics will be discussed at the TNC meeting:
· the objectives for the Miami Ministerial and for concluding the FTAA negotiations by January 2005. This will be a continuation of the discussions at the last TNC in San Salvador and the informal meeting of ministers hosted by the United States in Wye River, Maryland;· overview of the status of the draft FTAA agreement text before they are forwarded to Ministers;· overview of the status of the market access negotiations (goods market access, agriculture, services, investment, and government procurement);· overview of the status of implementation of the Hemispheric Cooperation Program;· overview of the status of progress on transparency and interaction with civil society, including meetings in June in Sao Paolo, Brazil on agriculture and in September in Santiago on services; as well as plans for further civil society meeting in 2004 in the Dominican Republic and United States.
The next scheduled meeting of the TNC will be held in Miami November 16-18 immediately before the Ministerial meeting which takes place November 20-21.