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April 30, 2001

Committee of Government Representatives
on the Participation of Civil Society

Report of the Committee of Government Representatives
on the Participation of Civil Society in the FTAA Process


  1. At their meeting in San José, Costa Rica, in March 1998, Ministers Responsible for Trade in the Hemisphere — while affirming their commitment to the principle of transparency in the FTAA negotiation process, and acknowledging and welcoming the interests and concerns expressed by different sectors of civil society in relation to the FTAA — decided to establish the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society to receive submissions, analyze them and present the range of viewpoints for consideration

  2. In fulfillment of this mandate, in October 1998 the Committee approved a work plan in which it was agreed to extend an “Open Invitation to Civil Society”, to facilitate their constructive participation, with a reply period lasting from November 1, 1998 to March 31, 1999. On the basis of submissions received, the Committee prepared a report which was presented in November 1999, at the Fifth Trade Ministerial meeting held in Toronto, Canada, which was subsequently published on the official FTAA website.

  3. At their meeting in Toronto, Canada, Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the principle of transparency in the FTAA negotiation process, and to conducting their negotiations in such a way as to broaden understanding among the general public, and generate support for the FTAA. At the same time they welcomed the report presented by the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society — a mechanism designed to achieve the aforementioned goals — and they requested the Committee to obtain permanent collaboration from civil society on trade-related issues relevant to the FTAA process, by means of written submissions, using the San José Declaration as a frame of reference. On this occasion, the Committee was again given the task of presenting a report describing the entire range of views received, for consideration by Ministers at their Buenos Aires meeting in April 2001.

  1. During this second stage of FTAA negotiations, the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society met on seven occasions: March 21 and 22, 2000 (Fourth Meeting); June 20 and 21, 2000 (Fifth Meeting); August 21, 2000 (Sixth Meeting); October 23 and 24, 2000 (Seventh Meeting), December 18 and 19, 2000 (Eighth Meeting), January 9 and 10, 2001 (Ninth Meeting) and February 13 and 14 (Tenth Meeting).

  2. At its March 2000 meeting, the Committee drew up its work plan and agreed to extend a new open invitation to civil society to present submissions in writing. The work plan, included as Annex A, specified the date on which the invitation would be issued (April 10, 2000) and the period for receiving submissions (up to September 30, 2000).

    The open invitation, included as Annex B, set out the procedures for presenting submissions, as well as the conditions they would need to satisfy to be considered by the Committee.

  3. The Committee of Government Representatives asked the Tripartite Committee, in its analysis of submissions received, only to consider the formal requirements established in paragraph Nº 4 of the open invitation. It instructed the Tripartite Committee that, where submissions did not satisfy the requirements, their proponents should be sent communication inviting them to make modifications, setting a deadline of October 14, 2000 for such adjustments to be presented.

  4. The Committee of Government Representatives also considered proposals for publishing the list of national delegates to the Committee, or, failing that, the FTAA contact points in each country. As a result of its proposal, the Trade Negotiations Committee agreed to publish the list of government contacts for each country, for the FTAA bodies, on the latter’s website.

  5. As part of the Committee’s deliberations, delegations exchanged information on their internal consultation processes, as well as on the mechanisms and means used to disseminate the open invitation to civil society.

  6. Finally, having approved the structure and contents of the Report to Ministers, the Committee set to work in preparing t he present document.



  1. A total of 82 submissions were received, 77 of which satisfied the formal requirements established in the open invitation. Information on the sender, country of origin and other information required in the work plan, for each of the 77 contributions, is provided in Annex C.

    The senders of the five contributions that did not satisfy the formal requirements of the open invitation, were informed the possibility of fulfilling these requirements up to October 14, 2000. The suggested re-submissions were not received by the deadline, however.

  2. Of the submissions received, 48% come from organizations and/or individuals from South American countries, and 70% of these came from Chile. Contributions from North American countries accounted for 47%, of which 72% were from United States. Central America and the Caribbean accounted for 5% of all submissions received.

  3. In terms of the economic integration areas existing in the hemisphere, submissions presented were distributed as follows: 47%, from the North American Free Trade Agreement, 10% from the Andean Community, 5% from MERCOSUR, 2% from CACM, and 1% from CARICOM. Chile and the Dominican Republic — countries that are not members of any of the region’s agreements — accounted for 34% and 1% of total submissions, respectively.

  4. The classification of the submissions, taking into account the different sectors of civil society as described in the San José Declaration, are as follows: 27 submissions were received from business associations, other sectors of production and professional associations, representing 35% of the total; six submissions came from labor organizations, accounting for 8%; eight submissions were made by environmental organizations (10%); 10 submissions (13%) were made by the academic sector; and there were 26 contributions from individuals and institutions from other sectors, accounting for 34% of the total.

  5. As regards the content of the submissions, a wide variety of points of view were presented, related to issues addressed in Negotiating Groups, Committees and Consultative Group, as well as on the general scope of FTAA, including institutional and procedural aspects.

  6. Several of the 77 submissions simultaneously expressed opinions on the topics addressed by Negotiating Groups, Committees and Consultative Group and on the FTAA process in general. Considering the total of 77 submissions, the breakdown of opinions is as follows: Market Access was the issue eliciting the largest number of opinions, 31, accounting for 40% of the total; Agriculture registered 27 opinions (35%); Investment had 23 opinions (29%); Services attracted 21 opinions (27%); Subsidies, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties had 18 opinions (23%); Competition Policies received 16 opinions (20%); Intellectual Property attracted 15 opinions (19%); Dispute Settlement had 13 opinions (16%); Government Procurement registered 13 opinions (16%). As regards the issues dealt with by the Committees and Consultative Group, those of civil society attracted the largest number of opinions, 37, (48%); the topic of Smaller Economies registered 18 opinions (23%), and Electronic Commerce had 5 opinions (6%). There were 38 submissions (49%) on the FTAA process as a whole and 37 opinions (48%) on other issues, such as business facilitation, labor and the environment.




(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/91, 96, 102, 103, 107, 111, 113, 122, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 136, 138, 141, 146, 147, 148, 155, 156, 158, 160, 162, 164, 168, 169, 170, 171 and 174)
  1. A wide variety of comments were received, ranging from those demanding full and total liberalization to those arguing for special considerations for certain sectors and for the smaller economies. There was significant agreement on the need to define a timetable for eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in the Hemisphere.

    In addition, harmonization and simplification of customs procedures were considered crucial for market access.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Elimination or reduction of tariffs should be negotiated on a product-by-product basis, or else a combination of methods could be used: the formula method and the product-by-product method.

    • For the small economies, elimination timetables should be asymmetric. These economies should have sufficient time — not less than that provided by the WTO — to implement tariff commitments. Differentiated treatment should also be agreed for sensitive products.

    • Rules of origin should be harmonized, as well as clear and transparent, and compatible with WTO provisions, and they should made available to the public. A common system for verification of origin should also be implemented, containing dispute settlement mechanisms and a sanctions regime in the event of non-compliance. The certificate of origin should be uniform and simple.

    • Countries should adopt common definitions on non-tariff barriers, consistent with those established in the framework of international organizations, such as WTO and UNCTAD. These non-tariff barriers should be gradually eliminated.

    • The discretionary nature and arbitrariness of technical barriers to trade should be eliminated, and measures should be taken to prevent technical standards from being used as hidden barriers to trade for protectionist purposes.

    • There should be an end to practices that delay or obstruct exports, including pre-shipment inspections.

    • Harmonize all standards and technical regulations or establish mechanisms for their mutual recognition.

    • Adopt fair and transparent rules, establishing safeguard mechanisms compatible with multilateral agreements on this issue, allowing States to protect their markets from the effects of sudden import surges.

    • Harmonize and modernized customs regimes in order to simplify procedures and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles. They should be compatible with WTO and World Customs Organization agreements. There should be a transparent consultation process between customs authorities and the private sector.

    • The IDB should finance the hemispheric database on trade and tariffs.

    • A hemisphere database on technical standards should be published. Information should be published on the creation or possible revision of standards, thereby giving an opportunity for the expression of public opinion.

  3. Notwithstanding the orientation of the submissions, there were others that proposed maintaining tariffs as a protection mechanism for national industries, particularly in sensitive areas, stressing that some countries that most advocate free access to markets are those which maintain that most protection for others to access theirs. For that reason, they propose making a participatory evaluation on areas and sectors to protect.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 104, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114, 117, 118, 122, 129, 130, 132, 136, 138, 139, 141, 145, 148, 155, 156, 158, 159, 168, 169, 170 and 173)
  1. Most submissions agreed in highlighting the need to eliminate subsidies and practices that distort trade, and to progressively eliminate tariffs and tariff barriers.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Achieve a situation in which all agricultural markets of FTAA countries are open as part of the commitment of the agreement.

    • Reduce tariff peaks at a faster rate than ad-valorem and specific duties in general.

    • A timetable for tariff reductions should be established, taking into account the differences and sizes of markets and the relative development of the Hemisphere’s countries.

    • Completely eliminate export subsidies in the zone’s internal trade. A priority goal of the FTAA should be to make the Hemisphere a “subsidy-free zone”

    • Establish incentives and preferences for agricultural products originating in FTAA member countries, protecting them from unfair competition from products subject to subsidies or domestic aid programs from third countries. Develop mechanisms to neutralize the impact of subsidized agricultural imports originating outside the region.

    • Prevent sanitary and phytosanitary certification requirements from becoming para-tariff barriers. These should be based on solid scientific evidence and objective justification. Control and inspection systems for such measures should be simplified and harmonized.

    • Adopt the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, or, in any event, ensure that the FTAA’s SPS Agreement is compatible with this.
    • Agree a status-quo clause on tariff and non-tariff barriers to agricultural trade to operate as from December 31, 1999, excluding products for which there are already reductions commitments fixed in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture.

    • Provide greater transparency and discipline in dealing with the issue of food aid, to prevent food sector exports originating in FTAA member countries being displaced to third countries.

    • Strengthen agricultural policies and expand credit for small and medium-sized farming enterprises.

    • Consider programs for harmonizing agricultural development policies in FTAA countries, and establish reasonable liberalization deadlines for a variety of agricultural products.

  3. Some submissions requested exemption from liberalization commitments for the production of essential items of domestic consumption. Others indicated the need to provide a special exemption to the agricultural sector in all countries, to fulfill conditions of fully liberalized markets.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 117, 122, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 134, 136, 137, 138, 148, 156, 158, 169 and 170)
  1. There was significant agreement on the need to incorporate the principles of transparency and non-discrimination in the agreement adopted on this issue, specifying that this should not translate into any type of privilege for foreign investments and investors compared to domestic investments and investors.

    Some submissions expressed the need to establish a favorable framework for investment in the region, in order to promote the economic development of less developed FTAA countries.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Cover all types of international capital movements in agreements and regulations on investment, including treatment of the issue of volatile capital flows.

    • Precisely define the different types of investment: direct and financial.

    • Ensure national and most favored nation treatment.

    • Ensure that the expropriation of national or foreign investments is only carried out for reasons of legitimate public interest, and that this is preceded by full compensation in convertible currency.

    • There is concern about FTAA adopting the North American Free Trade Agreement de-regulation model; for that reason, several submissions recommend that rules on investment should incorporate understandings on the rights of workers and provisions favorable to the environment and public health.

    • It is recommended to publish a compendium of the rules and regulations existing in FTAA countries on foreign investment (formal requirements, incentives, etc.).

    • A balance should be struck between the rights of governments to regulate and the rights of enterprises.

    • Encourage environmentally responsible investment. Provisions on trade and investment should not erode environmental protection standards.

    • Include mandatory provisions on workers rights in FTAA investment rules.

  3. Some submissions highlighted the need to establish performance requirements for foreign investment. These proposed, among other things, demanding a percentage of national content; giving preference to local hiring and respecting stricter labor standards; ensuring technology transfer; claiming reimbursement of environmental cleanup costs at the end of the industrial activity carried out; and requiring local approval for the exploitation of certain natural resources.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 111, 113, 122, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 136, 139, 142, 154, 158, 159, 161, 162, 166, 169, 170 and 171)
  1. The submissions received agreed on the need to incorporate the governing principles of WTO provisions and agreements on services in the FTAA negotiations. Some submissions requested that services be progressively and fully liberalized; that the agreement include national treatment and provide most favored nation treatment immediately and unconditionally for FTAA member countries.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Liberalize the services sector transparently, in a non-discriminatory, progressive and complete manner, working with a comprehensive and integrated approach, that incorporates protection mechanisms on issues such as investment, market access and intellectual property. The Agreement should envisage national treatment and provide immediate and unconditional MFN treatment for FTAA member countries.

    • The disciplines established in the framework agreement should be applied to all service sub-sectors, as well as all modes of service delivery. However, each country should present its own list for proposed liberalization. This does not mean that all sectors must be liberalized immediately.

    • Include a specific annex on financial services, establishing comparable and prudential standards for bank supervision among all countries of the Hemisphere, based on the provisions of the Basel Convention

    • Keep the issue of air traffic rights and related services outside of the trade negotiations, pursuant to the revocation clause contained in the GATS and the WTO.

    • Improve access for developing countries to the market for technologies related to encryption and efficient telecommunication services infrastructure.

    • Include free circulation and liberalization of engineering services, and recognize licenses, professional titles, certifications and accreditations awarded.

    • It is impossible to liberalize trade in services without consumer protection laws.

    • Adopt measures to prevent double taxation in the services sector.

    • Mechanisms should be established to facilitate the exchange of information on regulatory aspects in each service sector. Laws, rules and procedures affecting trade in services should be rapidly published and made available to the public.
    • The FTAA should respect any sub-regional agreements signed in the service sector.

  3. Other submissions stressed that liberalization of services should be carried out selectively, respecting the relative development levels of the countries of the Hemisphere. In addition, some submissions argued that the FTAA negotiation processes on services should deal with the issue of intellectual property policies, which hinders access to new technologies, undermining free competition in this sector. Mention was also made of the need to redress the imbalance promoted by the GATS agreement in allowing unrestricted movement of capital related to the provision of services, while not providing the same treatment to the circulation of people.
(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 109, 111, 112, 114, 120, 122, 128, 129, 130, 138, 156, 158, 168, 169, 170, 172 and 174)
  1. To a large degree the submissions received on this issue coincided on the need to eliminate measures that distort trade in the Hemisphere and ensure that the regulations adopted in this area are clear and transparent and fully compatible with the WTO.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Declare the Hemisphere a “Subsidy-free Zone”, as a priority goal in establishing the FTAA.

    • Establish clear and transparent provisions on antidumping, subsidies and countervailing duties in the FTAA agreement, which guarantee uniform interpretation.

    • Create a Hemispheric information system on antidumping and subsidies that allows coordination of public sector bodies responsible for dispute settlement. In addition, consider mechanisms to keep the private sector informed as to the progress of negotiations on subsidies, antidumping and countervailing duties.

    • Develop and implement programs for the exchange of experiences, education and training, designed for both public- and private-sector employees, aimed at facilitating preparation, research, evaluation and decision-making processes.

    • Limit the use of “best information available” that confers discretionary powers of evaluation, in order to prevent inappropriate use thereof.

  3. One submission proposed establishing a mechanism to move steadily towards eliminating countervailing or antidumping measures. This mechanism would envisage the possibility of signing bilateral or plurilateral agreements providing for mutual exemption from the application of such measures, without requiring agreement by other FTAA members. This would also make it possible to maintain existing regimes for countries that for domestic policy reasons consider it appropriate to do so.
(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 107, 111, 113, 122, 126, 129, 130, 136, 139, 158, 159, 169, 170,172 and 174)
  1. Some submissions argued that the hemispheric agreement should consider aspects relating to the interaction between trade and competition policy. Others proposed identifying the common and basic principles of competition for all FTAA members, in accordance with international principles and standards. Other submissions also proposed facilitating cooperation between FTAA countries, through effective exchange of information on the application and execution of competition rules.

    Other submissions argued that FTAA member countries should be guided by policies that limit all types of conduct contrary to competition.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Develop programs and mechanisms of cooperation and technical assistance to exchange information and experiences, in order to facilitate and promote competition policies. The creation of a Hemispheric database containing all information on the application and execution of competition policies would be an effective means to that end. All FTAA countries should pass national laws promoting competition by 2005; these should be transparent and non-discriminatory.

    • Ensure that provisions on competition policy grant effective treatment to problems relating to the limitations imposed on trade by the countries of the Hemisphere, particularly in relation to the issue of cross-subsidies.

    • Establish a clear and transparent legal and institutional framework for dealing with anti-competitive trade practices. The Hemispheric Agreement should consider the interaction between trade and competition policy, including antidumping measures. In this context, it is essential to avoid confusing unfair trade with laws of competition.

    • Create a body responsible for examining the state-of-the-art in competition policy systems, in order to advise and recommend measures needed to increase the capacity of countries unable to participate in the future Hemispheric regime.

    • Prevent governments from relaxing current environmental, health, labor or safety rules in order to obtain competitive advantages.

  3. Stressing the advantage that more developed economies have over the smaller economies in adopting competition policies, many submissions proposed studying ways to strengthen their application. One submission argued competition policy should be based on selective criteria that recognize the degree of development of the countries of the Hemisphere and existing integration agreements, in order to identify economically and socially homogeneous regions, to avoid exposing countries to a possible exacerbation of existing asymmetries in production, technology, purchasing power and competitiveness, among other things.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 106, 111, 112, 117, 122, 128, 130, 136, 139, 158, 161, 169, 170 and 174)
  1. Most submissions on this topic stressed the need to implement multilateral agreements and ensure their effective enforcement.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Incorporate in the Hemispheric agreement provisions on copyright and related rights in connection with the new technologies

    • Adopt effective measures to combat falsification and piracy, defining basic criteria for the protection of recognized trademarks and the scope of such rights.

    • Strike a balance between protection of intellectual property rights and the need to encourage technology transfer

    • Ensure technology transfer, the regulation of abusive practices and the protection of minor innovations, consistent with the TRIPS agreement, recognizing that processes of structuring intellectual property protection systems should respond to interests and objectives closely related to the different relative development levels of the economies concerned.

    • Establish programs for co-operation and exchange of experiences, creating for this purpose a hemispheric database that would contribute to more fluid communication between competent national agencies on this issue and take full advantage of existing resources.

    • Take the necessary steps to accede to existing multilateral agreements, such as the Brussels Convention, the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Budapest Treaty, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Treaty on Manufacturing Trademark Legislation and the Madrid Protocol..

    • Adopt measures to avoid unnecessary duplication of systems for the evaluation of patents in the region — for example, through the exchange of databases and confirmation of patents.

    • Promote cooperative mechanisms for the protection of confidentiality between governments, consumers and enterprises, recognizing national strategies, such as effective self-regulation, based on the best information practices enshrined at the international level.

  3. Some submissions recognized the need to allow governments to limit protection of intellectual property, in order to safeguard the health and safety of the population.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 111, 114, 117, 122, 136, 137, 139, 158, 167, 169, 170 and 174)
  1. Submissions on this topic argued that the FTAA dispute settlement system should be compatible with WTO rules and procedures, and ensure clarity, consistency and transparency. Some contributions argued for the need to ensure access and full use of the system for all States in the Hemisphere, especially the smaller economies.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Ensure that decisions arising from the system, including processes of negotiation, conciliation and mediation, are binding on all parties, regardless of whether the dispute is between States, between private parties, or between States and private parties.

    • Institute a dispute settlement system with a structure similar to that existing in the WTO, which is not supranational, including consultation mechanisms, special groups and a permanent appeal body.

    • Establish an instruction and training program for all parties involved in the system, especially judges, public sector employees and lawyers, in order to ensure better performance in applying the system.

    • Take into account the importance of private sector participation in the process and of technical assistance for the smaller economies that lacked the capacity to make adequate use of alternative dispute settlement systems.

  3. Other submissions requested the development of mechanisms for dispute settlement between firms, and between firms and FTAA States. Other submissions argued for participating States to adhere to the New York Convention on Recognition and Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 and the Panama Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration of 1975.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/102, 111, 112, 113, 122, 123, 128, 136, 148, 150, 167, 169 and 170)
  1. Most submissions stated the importance of guaranteeing access, non-discrimination and transparency on questions of public sector procurement. For this purpose, they considered it relevant to guarantee adequate and timely notification and publication of laws, policies, regulations, practices and criteria for awarding public-sector contracts in each country, as well as mechanisms established for dispute settlement.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • Establish an agreement applicable to all goods and services from all countries of the Hemisphere, the negotiation of which should be transparent.

    • Incorporate the exceptions envisaged in Article XXIII of the WTO Agreement on Public Contracting, and ensure special and differential treatment for developing countries, as enshrined in Article V of that Agreement.

    • Set value thresholds that balance the need to exclude small purchases but offer opportunities for small and medium-sized firms to participate in public tenders.

    • Develop a comprehensive database covering procurement activity, which is available to interested parties via Internet. For this purpose, each country should establish appropriate access listing and establishing links with electronic public-procurement sites.

    • Include in the relevant provisions exemptions for environmental preferences contained in federal, state and local laws, and give flexibility to governments to meet their public-policy goals.

    • Require national governments to safeguard the public nature of infrastructure construction].

  3. One submission expressed the need to grant preferences to domestic over foreign suppliers, as well as including criteria relating, among other things, to national content and to services in productive chains.



(Reference Documents FTAA/soc/w/98, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 122, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 136, 137, 138, 140, 143, 144, 148, 149, 151, 153, 154, 157, 161, 162, 165, 169, 170 and 171)
  1. A significant number of submissions on this issue expressed gratitude for the opportunity to present views on the process, and stressed the importance of the civil society participation to reconcile national and hemispheric interests. They indicated, however, that the mechanism established for consultation with civil society is insufficient and ineffective, as it fails to ensure substantive exchange of information to facilitate the presentation of proposals.

    One submission argued that national consultations are the best way to incorporate the concerns of the private sector (civil society) in trade negotiations. Another submission suggested anti-linking the contributions of the business sector from those of NGOs, unions and academic circles, when evaluating the position of civil society on specific questions.

  2. By way of illustration, in regards to the contents of number 43, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • A publicity campaign should be launched to inform the public about the Agreement. The more open the legislative process, the greater public support for the FTAA will be. Failure to inform civil society could be a serious problem.

    • Convert the current participation mechanism into an interactive forum (with the development of non-technical summaries and the realization of workshops and informational seminars, etc.), in order to generate feedback processes between Ministers Responsible for Trade and civil society. In addition, encourage FTAA countries to take steps to encourage all interested parties to make submissions and observations, as well as formulating national objectives and priorities.

    • Establish a Consultative Committee on Civil Society.

    • The contribution of women professionals and entrepreneurs should be promoted in the sphere of civil society in the FTAA, through professional associations and development groups.

  3. Some submissions stated that participation from certain segments of civil society, could lead to the trade negotiation processes becoming vehicles for promoting individual agendas or issues tangentially related to trade, thus distracting the attention of the negotiators. It is recommended, therefore, that the inter-governmental nature of the negotiations be maintained.

  4. By way of illustration, in regards to the contents of number 45, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below:

    • The basic relationship between economy and trade should not become a vehicle for promoting agendas addressing such issues as environment, conservation, human rights, social injustice and others.

    • NGOs have diverted, politicized, polarized and taken over negotiations, turning them into vehicles for advancing the specific agendas of private organizations that are not elected and that promote a single issue. They do not necessarily represent the electorate or what are considered the key economic and trade issues, and the focus of different international trade negotiations. It seems to be setting a dangerous precedent to commit to formalizing their participation through the formulation of administrative standards for “civil society” or its equivalent.

    • FTAA negotiations should be carried out as a government-to-government process. During these negotiations, the position of Observer should not be granted to any business, labor, environmental, human rights or consumer group, and none of the aforementioned groups should be given a seat at the negotiating table.
(Reference communications FTAA.soc/w/96, 102, 107, 111, 113, 116, 119, 130, 135, 136, 144, 146, 162, 169, 170, 171 and 172.)
  1. A major number of contributions refer to the issue of Smaller Economies and to the need to provide them opportunities to facilitate their participation in the FTAA and allow them to take advantage of the benefits to be derived there-from.

  2. By way of illustration, the following detail a number of specific proposals:

    • Define the significance and scope of “Smaller Economies” in the context of the FTAA, in order to facilitate the formulation of rules to be applied to them.

    • Convert the Consultative Group on Smaller Economies into a Negotiating Group.

    • Adopt the principle of asymmetric reciprocity and differential execution targets, guaranteeing special treatment in regard to market access, acceleration of tariff elimination, and non-applicability of nontariff barriers for products from smaller economies.

    • The advantages should be focused on a real and immediate opening of markets in favor of the smaller economies.

    • Establish an institutional mechanism, duly financed, to implement a program of technical assistance and cooperation designed to increase capacities and disseminate information regarding dispute settlement, rules of origin, customs procedures, technical barriers to trade, business facilitation, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, among others.

    • Respect and expand the rights acquired through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), through the application of the “enabling clause.”

    • Ensure the transfer of knowledge and technology, particularly that which derives from the region’s financial organizations, in order to better absorb the impact of market liberalization.

    • Implement a Hemispheric information system allowing enterprises of smaller economies or small enterprises of relatively more highly-developed economies to avail themselves of business opportunities and for placing goods and services within the expanded market.

    • Immediately and unconditionally forgive all bilateral or highly burdensome debt for the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC).

  3. However, two contributions indicated that while recognizing the asymmetries between countries, asymmetries within countries should also be recognized and should receive the same attention and analysis as do the smaller economies of the hemisphere.

(Reference Documents FTAA.soc/w/136,163,167,169 and 170)
  1. Submissions on this issue contained a variety of not necessarily concurrent opinions, which do not lend themselves to generalization.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below

    • The FTAA should act in accordance with the declaration of principles formulated on this issue in the WTO.

    • Policies and mechanisms for cooperation and exchange of experiences should be promoted, in order to prevent and punish fraud in electronic commerce transactions, as well as compensate for the damage caused thereby, and recover losses through the application of specific laws on this issue.

    • More widespread use of electronic mail should be promoted, as a way of slowing down the depletion of natural resources, specifically indiscriminate felling of trees.
(Reference Documents FTAA/soc/w/92, 98, 103, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118, 122, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 137, 138, 141, 143, 144, 146, 149, 153, 158, 161, 165, 167, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173 and 174)
  1. A large number of submissions strongly supported the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which would allow market opening and free trade and investment. Submissions generally supported the main objectives of this exercise, namely to negotiate an agreement which is balanced, integrated, WTO consistent, and fully applied in all contracting parties; and to complete the negotiations for that agreement by no later than 2005.

    A significant number of communications reflect the need for greater transparency in the FTAA. Some of these proposed gradual integration towards full economic union, as well as additional liberalization going beyond existing free trade agreements.

  2. The following ideas are suggested in this regard:

    • Carry out a wide-ranging dissemination campaign on the FTAA process on the issues it addresses, its implications and scope, to contribute to a better understanding of the process.

    • Conclude negotiations no later than December 31, 2003, thereby allowing the Agreement to come into force on January 1, 2005.

    • Establish a permanent institutional structure for the FTAA and set up mechanisms for financing it.

    • Incorporate an “accession” and “non-applicability” clause in the process.

    • Achieve consistency between the FTAA process and other regional and multilateral trade agreements.

    • Ensure that FTAA provisions are governed by traditional values of constitutional federalism.

    • Support the agreement of participating governments to conclude the negotiations by 2005 at the latest, insisting that concrete steps be take toward the execution of this objective.

    • Ensure the transparency of the process through equitable and timely access to information relating to it, including draft texts and negotiating documents.

  3. One submission argued, on the contrary, that the FTAA process should be recognized as essentially an economic and commercial legislation forum between the governments of Hemisphere.

(Reference documents FTAA/soc/w/122, 129, 169)
  1. A number of contributions related to business facilitation seek to adopt the proposals in this area presented by business forums throughout the Americas. Other contributions express congratulations for the recent decision of the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) to disseminate, on the FTAA website, the customs-related business facilitation measures approved at the Toronto Ministerial Meeting in November 1999. Some contributions state that the successful application of previously agreed measures will constitute fundamental proof regarding the efficacy of the FTAA Agreement, and they thus fully support the implementation of the eight customs measures that were approved.



(Reference Documents FTAA/soc/w/92, 102, 104, 108, 109, 110, 111, 114, 117, 118, 122, 123, 125, 128, 130, 133, 137, 138, 144, 145, 148, 156, 164, 165 and 169)
  1. An important number of contributions on this issue indicate the need to incorporate, in the FTAA deliberations, an analysis of the impact that trade integration and liberalization processes will have on the environment and on natural resources, so as to ensure appropriate levels of protection and conservation thereof, as well as complementarities between trade and environmental policies.

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below, in relation to the concepts included in the previous paragraph:

    • The FTAA should explicitly consider environmental issues, but only through a separate and parallel agreement on the environment. The challenge is to promote trade while combining profitability with long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Moreover, while environmental regulations should remain the competency of each country, a multilateral agreement on environment should establish a set of minimum rules on this issue.

    • Negotiations as currently set up, which do not address environmental protection, will result in a an agreement that will undermine the environment and restrict the ability of governments to legislate in favor of environmental protection.

    • Institute an environmental forum, parallel to the trade negotiating forum, responsible for reaching a hemispheric environmental agreement that respects national sovereignty, establishes a detailed, open and transparent environmental management system and promotes the implementation of cooperation mechanisms in place of trade sanctions.

    • Establish a commission on environmental cooperation and health of the populations of the Americas in the FTAA.

    • Eliminate production and trade subsidies that caused environmental harm.

  3. Some of the submissions by civil society expressed disagreement on the need to incorporate environmental measures in trade agreements, arguing that in most cases such measures constitute disguised barriers to trade and that their application damages the interests and competitiveness of Latin American economies. They recognize, however, the need to devise mechanisms to achieve cooperation and reconciliation of interests on environmental issues.

  4. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below, in relation to the concepts included in the previous paragraph:

    • Environmental problems per-se do not stem from trade, but originate from modes of production and consumption in the economies concerned. It was necessary to recognize the principles of sustainable trade established by the United Nations, which stress that consumer and producer responsibility form an integral part of environmental protection

    • It is imperative that FTAA trade negotiations be limited to objectives related to international trade policies. since the WTO has a special working group with a clear mandate to analyze the effects of trade and the environment.

    • Moreover, nearly all economists agree that free trade raises wage levels, which in turn translates into better labor and environmental standards.

    • Too often, intentions to link trade mechanisms with environmental standards represent another face of protectionism. It is therefore necessary to prevent or eliminate the use of environmental standards or measures imposed unilaterally, as well as trade sanctions based thereon.
(Reference Documents FTAA/soc/w/111, 116, 122, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128 and 165)
  1. Various submissions, which express opinions on the labor issue, agree on the need to safeguard the rights and interests of workers in the Hemisphere, in accordance with the principles and fundamental rights of workers, established by the international Labor organization (ILO).

  2. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below

    • Extend the Presidential mandates to the Labor Ministers of the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile, to constitute a labor negotiation forum parallel to that of trade, responsible for implementing not only the commitments defined in Santiago, but also a plan of action designed to: incorporate the business sector in the search for viable alternatives to ensure compliance with labor standards, provide technical assistance, implement transparency measures, and execute policies to stimulate labor markets.

    • The basic labor standards recognized internationally should be included in the fundamental provisions of FTAA and not be limited to parallel agreements. The FTAA should “substantively recognize the special needs of workers”.

    • FTAA provisions should guarantee that members do not obtain unfair competitive advantage deriving from minimum wages; child labor, prison labor -- virtually slave labor; all the absence of social security systems for workers. FTAA members should not lower wages in order to maintain competitiveness.

    • Prevent the erosion of labor rights and standards, in order to attract investments. Some submissions argue that investment regimes should include provisions relating to local communities and the rights of workers as stipulated in the ILO declarations.

    • Initiate negotiation of a hemispheric labor agreement in with a view to expanding coverage of internationally recognized labor standards. It is proposed to create a negotiating group on worker migration (skilled and unskilled) within a global strategy aimed at creating a free trade area.

    • Promote the adoption of standards aimed at protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups (women, children and workers in the informal sector) and create support networks between them in the Hemisphere. These provisions should cover the rights of migrant workers, both skilled and unskilled.

  3. Some civil society contributions disagree with the need to establish labor standards in trade agreements, arguing that in most cases such measures constitute disguised barriers to trade, and that their application harms the interests and the competitiveness of Latin American economies. Nonetheless, they do recognize the importance of establishing mechanisms for cooperation and coordination of interests in this area, respecting the authority of multilateral fora established for that purpose.

  4. By way of illustration, some of the specific points of view are described in detail below, in relation to the concepts included in the previous paragraph:

    • Trade liberalization intrinsically benefits workers and the environment, so the use of labor measures or standards imposed unilaterally, with protectionist aims or as hidden trade barriers, as well as trade sanctions based thereon, should be avoided.

    • The FTAA would promote economic growth and higher wages throughout the hemisphere.

    • The WTO Ministerial Declaration of Singapore and the Belo Horizonte Declaration established the labor issue as being within the remit of International Labor Organization, and that both organizations (WTO and ILO) would seek points of contact; therefore, the issue of labor and trade should not be included in any FTAA negotiating group. Moreover, the ILO is a more appropriate forum than the WTO for deliberating on trade-labor issues. The former has recently strengthened its initiatives to ensure compliance with standards and, more importantly, has created a broad international consensus on five fundamental internationally recognized labor standards.

    • A system of trade sanctions with respect to labor standards is incorrect, and would be one-sided between countries: only developed countries would be able to apply sanctions effectively against developing countries — not the reverse

Annex A: Working Plan
Annex B: Public Invitation
Annex C: List of Contributions
Annex D: Executive Summaries
countries sitemap a-z list governmental contact points