A Free Trade Area of the Americas: Major Policy Issues and Status of Negotiations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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In 1994, 34 Western Hemisphere nations met at the first Summit of the Americas, envisioning a plan for completing a Free Trade Area of the Americas FTAA by January 1, 2005. Nine years later, the third draft text of the agreement was presented at the November 2003 Miami trade ministerial. The Ministerial Declaration, negotiated largely by the two co-chairs, Brazil and the United States, took the FTAA in a new direction, away from the comprehensive, single undertaking principle, toward a two-tier framework comprising a set of common rights and obligations for all countries, augmented by voluntary plurilateral arrangements with country benefits related to commitments. A follow-up meeting in early 2004 in Puebla, Mexico, was unable to clarify this concept, highlighting the deep differences that remained between the United States and Brazil. FTAA talks subsequently stalled and the original January 1, 2005 deadline was missed. In the meantime, both Brazil and the United States are pursuing subregional trade pacts that may further complicate the negotiation process. Talks between Brazil and the United States may resume in early 2005, but it is still unclear if significant progress can be made on the FTAA this year. This report will be updated.
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