Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA

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October 18, 2000

Original: English



Name (s) Carol Frazier Marble
Organization (s)
(if applicable)
Country USA


In 1998 I had the opportunity to research the FTAA Process for the private sector task force formed by The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce. The three member private sector team to the Fourth Business Forum of the Americas in Costa Rica left The Bahamas with over four hundred pages of research. Upon returning from Costa Rica Mr. Neil McKinney, President of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce comments were “it’s a tremendously involved process because, there is so much information out there.” He went on to say “as we move along our position on this is going to change, it is going to evolve because of what we do and because of the decisions that are taken by other countries involved in FTAA. It’s a living dynamic process that is moving along.” The people of the Bahamas at that time were very concerned about the FTAA process and how this Trade Agreement would effect their country and themselves as individuals and business persons. The Bahamas is a small country and much information about the FTAA process was dispersed quickly by the press and through public forums to the citizens.

When I returned to the United States, I returned to find that there is very little public awareness of the FTAA process. As an individual I keep up with what is happening through the FTAA website and the OAS website. I do not know why there is so little information getting through to the “civil society” in this country, but I do know that this is a very big problem.

I just read an article in the Delta Business Journal, volume 3, number 4, September 2000 by Nancy Cotton Hirst titled NAFTA: A double-edged sword for the Delta. This article states that some companies throughout the United States, and Mississippi are benefiting from increased trade with Canada and Mexico since the inception of the NAFTA trade agreement. The article goes on to quote Wilburn Hooker, Director of Economic Development for Holmes County when asked about NAFTA—good and bad—“We’ve seen no good in Holmes County. It’s been 100% bad. It cost us our largest industry. NAFTA isn’t designed to help an area like this”. “We already had an unemployment rate of 8.9%, now it’s around 24%. Mr. Hooker goes on to discuss his attempts to get help for his County through the North American Development Bank only to be repeatedly turned down. This is just one example of many that I have read. This particular article goes on the quote Mark Manning of the Delta Council who looks at both sides of the issue. “I think it’s clear that NAFTA has been very good for international trade and the flow of goods back and fourth from Mexico.

When mention is made of the FTAA a large number of citizens think that this is referring to NAFTA. Even in the Bahamas when the FTAA was first mentioned several Canadians told me that they had already dealt with the FTAA, meaning the NAFTA agreement. The FTAA process has also been referred to as NAFTA plus many times. This also can be confusing.

Point five in the FIFTH TRADE MINISTERIAL MEETING in Toronto, Canada, 4 November, 1999 reiterates that the negotiations of the FTAA shall take into account the broad social and economic agenda contained in the Santiago and Miami Declarations of the Principles and Plans of Action with the view to contributing to raising the living standards, and improving the working conditions of all the peoples in the Americas. There is mention of the differences in the levels of development and size of the economies in our Hemisphere. I would like to mention two things in references to point five. First the fact that the FTAA is a much more complex document than NAFTA should be emphasized more than any other issue to the citizens of this country. Secondly, there are areas in the United States, particularly the agricultural areas of the south which also have unique levels of development and size of economies. These areas will be affected in unique ways by the FTAA, and should also be given the same attention and study as the smaller economies of the hemisphere.

It is vital that information about the specific points in the Santiago and Miami Declarations of the Principles and Plans of Action are more clearly understood by a larger percentage of the population of the United States. This agreement has the possibility of changing the world as much as the industrial revolution did, depending upon the final agreement.

Carol Frazier Marble
Private Citizen

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