Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA

español français

Trade Negotiations

Home Countries Sitemap A-Z list Governmental Contact Points


November 21, 2003

Original: English – Spanish
Translation: non FTAA Secretariat




  1. At their March 1998 meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Ministers Responsible for Trade in the Hemisphere, in affirming their commitment to the principle of transparency in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiation process, and acknowledging and welcoming the interests and concerns expressed by different sectors of society in relation to the FTAA, decided to establish the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society (the Committee), which would be responsible for receiving contributions, analyzing them, and presenting the range of viewpoints for consideration.

  2. Following their November 1, 2002 meeting in Quito, Ecuador, the FTAA Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the principle of transparency in the FTAA process and again recognized the need to enhance and sustain participation of the different sectors of civil society in this hemispheric initiative. Ministers instructed the Committee to continue its work to keep promoting transparency, and to identify and foster the use of best practices for outreach and consultation with civil society. Ministers also instructed the Committee to foster a process of increased and sustained two-way communication with civil society to ensure that it has a clear perception of the development of the FTAA negotiation process.

  3. The FTAA Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), at its 8-10 April 2003 meeting in Puebla, Mexico, instructed the Committee to further its work regarding transparency, and participation of civil society in the FTAA process. Specifically, the TNC instructed the Committee to organize a series of issue meetings open to civil society held parallel to SOC meetings in rotating host countries around the Hemisphere, to post on an ongoing basis on the official FTAA website the civil society contributions in response to the Open and Permanent Invitation, to develop concrete recommendations on how to improve the official FTAA website, to prepare a document on best practices for outreach and consultation with civil society, to develop concrete recommendations on how to enhance public statements and press communiqués, and to study, in coordination with the Technical Committee on Institutional Issues, the possibility of establishing a Civil Society Committee after the entry into force of the FTAA. The TNC also instructed the SOC to include in its report to the TNC a section on the treatment accorded to the issues of difference in the levels of development and size of the economies. These TNC instructions were derestricted and made public via the official FTAA website. At the subsequent FTAA TNC meeting in San Salvador in July 2003, Vice Ministers also announced the locations and topics of upcoming SOC issue meetings with civil society in 2004; created an expedited process for SOC to post additional useful information to the public website, including all FTAA documents derestricted by the TNC; urged continuing work to illustrate countries’ consultations with civil society; and approved the launch of the new public website prepared by the SOC with the assistance of the Tripartite Committee. These TNC instructions were also derestricted and made public via the official FTAA website.


  1. Between the 2002 Quito and Miami 2003 Ministerial meetings, the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society met on five occasions: 2-3 December 2002 (XIX Meeting), 24-25 January 2003 (XX Meeting), 24-25 April 2003 (XXI Meeting), 26-27 June 2003 (XXII Meeting) and 24-25 September 2003 (XXIII Meeting). The Committee’s activities undertaken during this period reflect Ministerial mandates and the instructions of Vice-Ministers.

A. Activities Undertaken

  1. Implemented TNC instruction to post to the official FTAA website, on an ongoing basis, the executive summaries or if applicable the entire written contributions of civil society that are received in response to the Committee’s Open and Permanent Invitation, in order to increase the transparency and give impetus to a greater number of contributions from civil society.

  2. Included in section III is the document entitled “Illustrative examples of consultations with civil society at the national level”, and in Annex D (, the document entitled “Additional information on the best practices and illustrative examples of consultations with civil society at the national/regional level”, for consideration by the TNC.
  3. Implemented the TNC instruction to the SOC to organize a series of issue meetings that are open to civil society representatives immediately before or after its regularly scheduled meetings in 2003 and 2004, in rotating host countries. The first FTAA SOC issue meeting with civil society was on the topic of agriculture and held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 25, with government representatives and representatives of civil society from the Hemisphere. (See Annex E ( ) The second FTAA SOC issue meeting with civil society was on the topic of services and was held in Santiago, Chile on September 23, with government representatives and representative of civil society from the Hemisphere. (see Annex F ( The exchange of views included references to the difference in the size and the level of development of economies. 
  4. Re-issued, on 4 December 2002, a fourth Open and Ongoing Invitation to civil society in the Hemisphere (Annex A, which each country undertook to disseminate by all available means, taking into account the differences in the size and the level of development of the economies. Toward this end, the Committee sent letters to each of the FTAA Vice-Ministers urging their governments to review the mechanisms for the dissemination of the Open and Ongoing Invitation.
  5. Invited the national governments of the FTAA countries hosting the upcoming ministerial and vice ministerial meetings to continue to encourage civil society organizations wishing to hold parallel fora and to offer an opportunity for the conclusions of those fora to be considered. As a result such fora took place in parallel to TNC Puebla (7 April 2003), TNC San Salvador (7 July 2003), TNC Port of Spain (October 2003) and the Miami Ministerial (November 2003).

  6. Made suggestions for improving the FTAA Official Website which were forwarded to the Tripartite Committee. The Committee also received reports from the Tripartite Committee on improvements made to the site. Following the TNC’s approval a revamped FTAA Official website was launched, with a more user-friendly format and organization, and Open Invitation civil society submissions posted prominently under each FTAA entity.

  7. Made recommendations related to the enhancement of the information provided in public statements, including press communiqués, of all FTAA entities.

  8. The General Secretariat of the Andean Community in coordination with the governments of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela hosted a regional seminar for the Andean Community for public discussion on the FTAA on 10 December 2002, in Lima, Peru. A summary report prepared by the organizers of this seminar, is attached in Annex G.

  9. The Committee held an informational exchange session on the 24 April 2003 with representatives of the United Nations and the Organizational of American States, on the issue of civil society participation mechanisms within the respective inter-governmental organizations.

B. Ongoing Activities

  1. The Committee’s ongoing activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Studying, in coordination with the Technical Committee on Institutional Issues, the possibility of creating, after the FTAA enters into effect, a civil society committee within the institutional structure of the FTAA that could be modeled on the SOC document on the best practices and experiences of civil society participation in other multilateral and regional organizations, such as the OAS, the United Nations, MERCOSUR, the European Union, CARICOM, the Andean Community, etc.

  • Organizing a series of issue meetings that are open to civil society representatives immediately before or after its regularly scheduled meetings in 2004. As indicated by Vice Ministers in the San Salvador TNC Guidance and Instructions (FTAA.TNC/23, derestricted and available to the public at the Dominican Republic will host a SOC issue meeting with civil society on the topic of intellectual property rights and the United States will host a SOC issue meeting with civil society on the topic of industrial and consumer goods market access with a special session on small and medium-sized business, during the first and second quarter of 2004, respectively.

  • Developing recommendations on how to improve the design, use, accessibility, and content of the official FTAA website, focusing on enhancing the information on the official website regarding the FTAA process, continually tracking the improvements to the FTAA’s public website.

  • Following up on the process initiated with the Open and Ongoing Invitation to civil society in the Hemisphere. The Committee continues to forward all Open Invitation contributions submitted by civil society to the FTAA entities requested by each submitter and posting them on the official FTAA website.

  • Ensuring that Ministers and those responsible for negotiating the FTAA are presented with the range of views from civil society in relation to the FTAA.

  • Encouraging the organization of national and/or regional seminars on the FTAA.

  • Encouraging government support of civil society forums to be held parallel to Ministerial and Vice Ministerial meetings.

  • Securing an overall increase in, and enhancement of, publicly available information on the FTAA.

C. Issues under study

  1. The Committee will continue to evaluate other issues, such as:

  • Developing, with the assistance of national and regional entities, material to promote a broader understanding of the FTAA negotiating process and of the FTAA’s documentation.

  • Fostering a comprehensive process of education on the FTAA.

  • Developing additional mechanisms that promote more interactive communication with civil society on the FTAA process.

  • Encouraging all sectors of Civil Society to conduct seminars parallel to the meetings of the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society.


  1. Consistent with the Committee’s Quito 2002 mandate to “strengthen and deepen their consultation process with civil society at the national level,” and “identify and foster the use of best practices for outreach and consultation with civil society” (Para 33), delegations provide the following examples of national outreach activities that have been undertaken or are planned prior to the 2003 Miami Ministerial. These examples are only illustrative, not exhaustive, of the range of national outreach activities undertaken by FTAA governments.

  2. Further, FTAA governments submitted more detailed written reports regarding national consultation mechanisms, included as an annex to this report. (Annex D

  3. Illustrative examples of national level consultations with civil society:

ARGENTINA: The Government of Argentina uses various mechanisms for consultation and communication with civil society as a means to strengthen the participation of the latter in the FTAA process. It publicizes Open Invitations to Civil Society, both in the Official Gazette and on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs web page, so that contributions for the FTAA process may then be submitted to the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society. The Argentine government also has four permanent consultative mechanisms with various sectors of civil society: the Mercosur Economic and Social Consultative Forum, the International Trade Council, the Civil Society Consultative Council, and the Parliamentary Working Group. The first, second, and fourth entity mentioned above meet monthly to analyze the development of trade negotiations, while the third also meets monthly to review progress made in the negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In addition to these four mechanisms, the Government of Argentina conducts periodic consultations on various aspects of hemispheric negotiations by issuing calls for meetings and public forums to hold timely discussions on issues of interest in various sectors of national life. For example, on 6 August 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina invited the business sector to report on market access negotiations and to request contributions from the private sector on that issue. Some 140 people representing 97 entities took part in the meeting, which resulted in more than 70 contributions from the business sector.

Further information on consultative and civil society participation mechanisms developed by the Argentine Republic is included in Annex D (

BAHAMAS: The Government of The Bahamas has taken a variety of measures at the national level to consult with civil society on the FTAA process and the possible implications of the proposed agreement for The Bahamas. These have included publicizing the Open Invitations to Civil Society through the local print media and through drawing the attention of the public to the information available through the FTAA’s official Web Site. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts a series of monthly meetings with representatives of civil society organizations on issues pertinent to the FTAA negotiations. Emerging from this forum, a central association of representatives from diverse sectors of civil society has been established for the purpose of maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the Government on the FTAA and other related matters.

A regional conference on the FTAA sponsored by the Trade Union Congress of The Bahamas was held in October, 2002. Government Ministers, Bahamian FTAA negotiators, other government officials and members of the wider civil society took part in this event. There has been similar involvement in various other conferences and seminars sponsored nationally by the Government itself - through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and through the Central Bank of The Bahamas - and by private sector, academic, religious and other groups. Government Ministers and FTAA negotiators also appear on television, on radio talk shows and at meetings of service clubs and other special interest groups to discuss the FTAA. These events receive wide coverage in the local print and electronic media.

A particularly important initiative on the part of the Government of The Bahamas was the appointment, in December, 2002, of the Bahamas Commission on Trade, a body whose members are drawn from both the public and private sectors, as well as from various segments of civil society. A significant aspect of the Commission’s mandate is to study and discuss widely with the Bahamian public matters related to the FTAA and, based on these measures, to provide feedback to negotiators and advice to the Government. In order to fulfil these responsibilities more effectively, sub-committees of the Commission have been established to parallel the negotiating groups and other committees of the FTAA. These committees also include FTAA negotiators who may not be members of the Commission itself, and other individuals drawn from relevant areas of the public and private sectors and civil society. Written invitations have also been extended to significant interest groups to submit their views directly to the Commission on matters related to trade liberalization.

BRAZIL: The General Coordination of the FTAA Negotiations (COALCA), of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, uses its web page ( to disseminate information on the FTAA negotiations. This web page provides access to documents such as the Open Invitation to Hemispheric Civil Society and the entire initial offer of goods presented by MERCOSUR in the context of the FTAA negotiations. Comments and queries on the progress of the negotiations and positions adopted by the Government of Brazil may be addressed to the General Coordination at

In 1996, the Brazilian government created the National Coordination Unit on FTAA-Related Issues (SENALCA) as a coordination forum for Brazilian civil society on the FTAA negotiations. SENALCA comprises representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Chamber of Foreign Trade; the Central Bank; the ministries of Justice, Finance, and Health; the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply; the Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade; and the Ministry of Planning, Budget, and Management. In order to ensure broad representation of civil society in SENALCA meetings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites representatives of other public entities and of various national economic and social sectors, including academia, parliamentarians, labor union and employer organizations, and members of non-governmental organizations. To date, SENALCA has held thirty-two meetings.”

The Government of Brazil also organizes seminars on the FTAA negotiations. The Parliamentary Summit for Hemispheric Integration took place from 18-20 November 2002 in Brasilia. Parliamentarians of Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay discussed the challenges in the hemispheric integration of the Americas project. Representatives of the United States, the Italian Parliament, the Joint Parliamentary Committee of MERCOSUR, the Andean Parliament, and PARLATINO, among others, were also in attendance. Additionally, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies organized the seminar “Brazil and the FTAA” (23-24 October 2001), in which fifty-two representatives of government and civil society discussed Brazil’s objectives and interests in the negotiations. Additional details regarding these seminars are provided in Annex D.

On 14 March 2003, in Brasilia - DF, the Government of Brazil held a seminar on the issue of dispute settlement in the context of the WTO, FTAA, MERCOSUR, and MERCSOUR-European Union negotiations. In attendance were more than 150 participants, representing the government and production sectors, class associations, law firms, universities and study centers, labor confederations, and civil society in general. The event was divided into four parts (WTO, FTAA, MERCOSUR, and MERCOSUR-European Union, each having a speaker (Government) and two panelists (academic and private sector). In addition to the productive exchange of information among the participants, the seminar provided another opportunity to develop relations between government and civil society in the context of trade negotiations. The 14 March seminar should be given continuity through similar initiatives addressing more specific points in the context of the negotiations on dispute settlement. The seminar program and other relevant information is available at (path: Sites do MRE - CGC - Reunião sobre Solução de Controvérsias).

A Parliamentary Conference on the FTAA to discuss “The Role of Legislators in the FTAA” will be held in Brasilia on 20 and 21 October 2003.

Further information on consultative and civil society participation mechanisms developed by the Government of Brazil is included in Annex D (

CANADA: The Government of Canada is fully committed to civil society participation in the FTAA negotiations. In Canada’s view, openness and transparency are key to an informed debate about this hemispheric initiative. Effective two-way communication channels between governments and citizens are vital to increase their understanding of free trade, and to build broad public support and confidence for trade negotiations and agreements. To that end, the Government of Canada, mainly through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, uses a range of permanent and ad-hoc consultative and outreach mechanisms and strategies to ensure that the views of industry, non-governmental groups, and Canadians at large are taken into account in the Canada’s trade policy agenda. These mechanisms include, but are not restricted to: the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Trade, the joint Government of Canada-Federation of Canadian Municipalities working group, the Sectoral Advisory Groups on International Trade, the Academic Advisory Council, as well as Multistakeholder Information and Consultations Sessions. In addition to these mechanisms, the Government of Canada also uses every opportunity to work with Canadian parliamentarians and with our trading partners with a view to strengthen public engagement at home and increase civil society participation within inter-governmental forums and entities. Consultations are productive and rewarding only if citizens are kept up-to-date and engaged on an ongoing and sustained basis with respect to Canada’s trade development and outcomes. The Government of Canada informs Canadians and solicits input on trade policy matters through the Trade Negotiations and Agreements website (, which includes, inter alia: the draft consolidated FTAA negotiating text with a description of each chapter of the agreement; Canada’s positions and proposals in these negotiations, and notably our market access offers; frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) and answers; an information kit; a list of key Government of Canada FTAA negotiators, with their contact information; and consultation notices. The input of interested parties is facilitate via the following email address:

Canada’s main trade policy outreach and consultation mechanisms and strategies are described in further detail in Annex D (

CARICOM: CARICOM has a long tradition of consultation with members of civil society at the national and regional levels and has developed a number of regional mechanisms, which facilitate ongoing dialogue with civil society on a range of issues, including the FTAA negotiations. The CARICOM Charter on Civil Society adopted by CARICOM Heads of Government in 1997 provides the platform for dialogue with civil society at the national level and in the various organs of the Community, namely the Conference of Heads of Government, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), and the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP), in order to engage major stakeholders on matters of trade policy, social policy and the overall development of the Community. The Caribbean Regional Machinery, the negotiating arm of CARICOM, has also established mechanisms such as Technical Working Groups, and a Private Sector Liaison Committee, which facilitate technical consultation and exchange of information with the private sector and civil society in general on developments within the negotiations. Other tools include a weekly electronic newsletter on trade negotiations issues as well as regular regional seminars with different groups of civil society such as media workers and labor unions.

Additional information on the civil society participation and consultation mechanisms developed by CARICOM is included in Annex D (

CHILE: International trade policy has been the centerpiece of Chile’s economic development. Given its relatively small domestic market, Chile’s economic development potential depends directly on the successful application of the export development model, since the country’s foreign trade accounts for more than 50 percent of GDP, and for more than 70 percent thereof including the services sector. It is in this context that Chile has negotiated trade agreements with its main trading partners. For trade agreements to have meaning and political legitimacy in the medium- and long-term, and to contribute to the country’s general prosperity, negotiators must appropriately consider the proposals and concerns of civil society regarding the negotiating themes and provide information on the negotiation process.

In every one of its trade negotiations, Chile has engaged in ongoing consultations with its business sector, so as to identify and adequately interpret the sensitivities and interests of the different production sectors included in the offers and negotiations, particularly in the area of tariffs and rules of origin. Beginning in the mid-1990s, other sectors were incorporated into the consultations process, when the Office of International Economic Relations (DIRECON), of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, launched a dialogue on international trade negotiations with various civil society organizations (academic and professional associations, trade unions, and NGOs).

This dialogue began with the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Chile and Canada (1995-1996), which was complemented by the signing of separate environmental cooperation and labor agreements. The dialogue was subsequently intensified with the start of the FTAA negotiations, the work of the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society, and in the wake of the Seattle Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization.

Against this backdrop, the Government of Chile disseminated the First Open Invitation of the FTAA Civil Society Committee in 1999, sending letters to different non-governmental organizations and institutions, and through the press and its websites. Civil society organizations were called upon to submit written presentations on FTAA-related issues.

In 2000, under the administration of President Lagos, and with a new emphasis on the need for dialogue with civil society at all levels of government pursuant to presidential instructions issued in this regard, the FTAA expanded its open invitation. More notices were placed in newspapers, government authorities increased public activities, and information was made available on the FTAA negotiating process, and on joint initiatives with interested sectors of civil society.

Special mention must be made of Chile’s efforts to develop the website of the Office for International Economic Relations, (DIRECON), at According to the first-quarter report for 2003, not only has this web site become an increasingly important work tool, but it also surpassed its record of 1,400,000 hits, with a total of 1,676,855 hits in April. Widespread use of the Internet has translated into an average 500,000 visits per month to Chilean government websites, the most popular being those related to economic agreements and foreign trade. The “Civil Society” section, the most popular on the site, highlights the importance of information in the political management of foreign trade.

Four open invitations to civil society were issued in 2001 and 2002, during which time Chile was involved in negotiations for the FTAA and for free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States. Seminars were also held in Santiago and other regions, some with trade unions or with other sectors of civil society, in order to make information on these negotiations increasingly accessible and also to foster contributions and comments from civil society. Participating in these activities were business organizations, as well as trade unions and other associations grouped by their respective activities. This approach was also used with the academic sector and NGOs. During negotiations with the United States, Chile, for the first time for this type of negotiation, set up three “side rooms” (for business, unions, and small- and medium-sized enterprises) to inform and consult with different sectors during the successive negotiation rounds. This process has continued, through the dissemination of the contents of the Treaties and the resulting opportunities created for the different sectors.

In order to achieve greater transparency in its foreign trade and international trade negotiations, Chile has adopted mechanisms such as the Ministerial Advisory Council, which comprises representatives of the various political sectors, trade associations, and parliamentarians who have submitted their views on international trade negotiations, without prejudice to governing constitutional procedure.

Finally, we wish to emphasize the importance of the following mechanisms, which promote consultations and participation:

  • the open and permanent invitation to the public to submit their views, concerns, and interests to negotiators;

  • ensuring that the different sectors of civil society are informed on the status of the negotiations, as well as on the potential impacts and the results thereof, by disseminating information on the institutional web page, in the media, and through seminars and workshops;

  • creating “side rooms” representing the various sectors at the most relevant negotiation meetings; and

  • taking steps towards the institutionalization of consultation and participation mechanisms.

Further information on consultative and civil society participation mechanisms developed by the Government of Chile is included in Annex D (

COLOMBIA: The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism has furthered the FTAA negotiations by consistently coordinating the country’s position on each of the topics included in the process. It therefore set up the negotiating team to ensure that Colombia’s position reflects national interests and in response to the need to involve civil society in the negotiations in which the country is engaged within a tripartite arrangement that includes the public sector, the private sector, and academia.

In addition, throughout the negotiations, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, as coordinator of the international trade negotiations in which Colombia is taking part, has made a priority of using all available tools to provide ample information on the negotiating process through which the FTAA is to be created. The Ministry has, thus, been present at different trade union forums, congresses, and universities. The Ministry has also held seminars and meetings on the topic. At these events, the Ministry has informed the private sector on the progress and the scope of negotiations.

In keeping with the countries’ commitment to publicize the open invitation for civil society to submit contributions on the FTAA negotiations, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism has disseminated this invitation in a variety of ways.

Further information on consultative and civil society participation mechanisms developed by the Government of Colombia is included in Annex D (

COSTA RICA: In order to boost the participation of civil society in the FTAA process, the government of Costa Rica has set up a process for consultation, dialogue and information with the various sectors of civil society. This process functions basically on two levels. At the first level, there is the Foreign Trade Consultative Council, which was created by the Law on Negotiations and the Administration of Free Trade Treaties, Agreements and Instruments of Foreign Trade, of 21 November 2000. This Council is responsible for advising the Executive Branch of government on the definition of foreign trade and foreign investment policies and for promoting mechanisms for coordination and cooperation with the private sector so that those policies and trade negotiations are executed. The Council is chaired by the Foreign Trade Minister and consists of both public officials and representatives of the private sector.

The second level consists of the process of direct consultation with companies, professional associations, and other sectors of civil society, which in turn is divided into various levels and modalities of consultation and outreach: (a) open invitations issued in the official newspaper (‘La Gaceta’) for people to send in contributions regarding the FTAA process; (b) direct consultations with companies and professional associations. In 2002, for example, individual invitations were sent to over 900 companies and around 60 chambers of commerce and sectoral groups for distribution among their members; (c) an electronic information network called ‘Punto de Enlace Permanente’ (Permanent Connection Point-PEP by its Spanish acronym), which currently has 1,500 users who, on average, receive two weekly bulletins on the progress of the various negotiations underway; (d) periodic diffusion of specific information via Internet or electronic mail on markets and the status of the FTAA negotiations, among other things; (e) ongoing, open dialogue with the Legislative Assembly throughout the consultation and FTAA negotiation process; and (f) the organization of various Conference Cycles and other public events on FTAA issues.

Additional information on the civil society participation and consultation mechanisms developed by the government of Costa Rica is included in Annex D (

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Since the beginning of the negotiations taking place as part of the FTAA process, the Dominican Republic has designed and implemented different mechanisms to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society. The Dominican Republic places top priority on maximizing the transparency of these negotiations, as this will guarantee that the results benefit the entire country and generate the social and political consensus necessary for Congress to approve the Agreement once the negotiations have concluded.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations incorporated various entities from the private sector and civil society into a National Trade Negotiations Commission. With this tool, the civil society entities are able to transmit their opinions and concerns directly to the government negotiating team.

With a view to publicizing the progress made in the negotiations and promoting issues relevant to the future Free Trade Area of the Americas, the government created an Internet portal where users may access different kinds of information. In addition, the government broadcasts a weekly television program discussing FTAA-related issues, in which the government negotiating team and civil society entities are invited to participate and present their points of view. Furthermore, the government is currently in the process of developing a project to broadcast a similar program on the radio in order to provide information on the progress of the negotiations to those communities where access to television is limited.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations and other executive branch offices have organized events, seminars, and conferences together with civil society entities. These meetings have served to generate consensus among participants on the main advantages and disadvantages of certain aspects being negotiated in the FTAA. Moreover, in an effort to educate and increase awareness among those parties with an interest in economic integration, the government has published a variety of magazines and bulletins containing general information on the FTAA negotiations.

Finally, prior to each hemispheric issue meeting organized by the SOC, the Ministry of Foreign Relations organizes a meeting with representatives of civil society for the purpose of inviting them to attend the aforementioned meeting. If they are unable to attend, they are invited to transmit any concerns to the official delegate, who subsequently presents them at the issue meeting.

ECUADOR: The activities undertaken by the Government of Ecuador to foster the participation of civil society in the hemispheric negotiations of the FTAA include:

In order to inform the public and encourage as much debate as possible, the document entitled “Ecuador: General Guidelines for a Strategy for the Free Trade Area of the Americas” was published. Eight hundred copies of this publication have been distributed throughout the country to production federations and chambers, universities, trade unions, indigenous and Afro-American communities, social groups, professional associations, and non-governmental organizations. Several seminars and issue forums have been held in Quito and Guayaquil with the country’s production sectors, journalists, and universities. A brochure containing summarized information on the FTAA, which highlights the transparency of the process and describes the spaces for participation being developed, is currently being distributed. An e-mail address has been made available so that interested members of civil society may submit their comments and suggestions. Officials from the FTAA Unit are traveling to the country’s main cities to hold information sessions on the status of the negotiations.

JAMAICA: The Government of Jamaica is fully supportive of the involvement of civil society in trade negotiations. It is recognised that it is business enterprises which carry out trade and not governments, therefore the input of the private sector in formulating negotiating positions is important. In the same manner, the society at large, the consumers, labour, academia etc. are an integral part of the process as they will be affected in one way or another by decisions made.

The Government of Jamaica has sought to inform and consult with civil society on a regular basis. In 1992 the Trade Coordination and Policy Committee (TCPC) was put in place to facilitate cooperation between the public and the private sectors. To further enhance civil society participation in the trade negotiations process a consultative mechanism was established in 2001 under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. This is the Jamaica Trade and Adjustment Team (JTAT).

JTAT is designed to deepen and widen the consultative process to include a wider cross-section of society, namely Jamaica’s private sector, non-governmental organisations, labour and academia. JTAT meets regularly as a body, and also convenes in smaller groups on specific issues on the trade agenda. The issues being addressed within the FTAA are therefore discussed and the differing positions from the various sectors considered.

JTAT assists in the policy formulation, designed to guide trade negotiations and in information dissemination to the wider public.

In addition to this consultative mechanism various events have been organised by the private sector and NGOs, which have been fora of information sharing and consultation.

The involvement of civil society in the technical and Ministerial meetings of CARICOM, has also facilitated the consultation process at the regional level. The different positions are aired, and if at all possible resolved and consolidated into regional positions.

The Government has communicated to the various sectors its interest in getting their views on matters and is open to receiving comments, concerns and interests for submission to negotiations.

MEXICO: The Mexican Government considers the participation of civil society in the negotiation process of the Free Trade Area of the Americas to be highly important. The dissemination of information and transparency regarding the development of this process have been essential elements for furthering such participation.

Within the framework of the FTAA negotiation process, the Mexican Government has intensified its dialogue and expanded its mechanisms for communication with civil society. Regular open meetings that allow for direct dialogue between government representatives and representatives of business and non-governmental organizations, as well as meetings with the academic sector, have formed the mainstay of civil society participation in the process.

These meetings and events have turned into true forums for information sharing and consultation and have enabled the Mexican Government to hear opinions, answer queries, and discover the expectations and needs of the various sectors that make up Mexican civil society. The participants in the meetings, for their part, have had the opportunity to learn about and discuss Mexico's official position with regard to the FTAA negotiations.

The organization of various events within the FTAA framework itself, such as the North American Regional Seminar, held in Merida, Mexico, on 18 July 2002, or the Meeting with Hemispheric Civil Society “Progress in the FTAA Negotiations”, held in Puebla, on 8 April 2003, in parallel with the Thirteenth Meeting of the FTAA Trade Negotiations Committee that was attended by the Vice Ministers of Trade of the hemisphere, have also contributed to the process of furthering dialogue with civil society.

Printed and electronic media have also played an important role in this process. Various open invitations to events held as forums for the participation of civil society have been issued through national newspapers. The web site of the Secretariat of the Economy ( has provided the general public with access to a wide range of information on the FTAA, from negotiation texts to negotiation principles and modalities, meeting schedules, etc.

The details of these mechanisms for communication and consultation with civil society are presented in Annex D (

PANAMA: At several points during the negotiation process for the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Ministers have, in the Ministerial declarations, reaffirmed their commitment to civil society in their respective countries to inform the community at large about the FTAA negotiations process. Panama therefore takes this opportunity to report on some activities it has carried out with its civil society with a view to ensuring that the latter is duly informed of the events underway in the FTAA process in compliance with the commitments assumed.

Within this context, and in accordance with the agreements reached by the FTAA Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society, the following action has been taken:

  • Open Invitation: This was set up as one of the mechanisms for reaching out to Civil Society so that it can contribute its viewpoints on matters related to the FTAA negotiation process. Panama has published all the Open Invitations issued by the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society through newspapers, the radio and the website of the Vice-Ministry of Foreign Trade.

  • Seminars and Conferences: As part of the strategy pursued by the FTAA Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society, the delegations agreed to hold seminars and conferences with civil society in their respective countries. In Panama, the Ministry of Trade and Industry held an institutional seminar which reported on all aspects of the FTAA negotiations, including their structure, workings and current status.

Several conferences have also been held through private organizations, such as the Union of Industrialists of Panama (SIP), the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE), and the Free Trade Zone of Colon, etc. Information on the FTAA negotiations has also been provided to the following universities: The University of Panama, the Santa María la Antigua University (USMA), the Latin American University (LATINA), the Latin American University of Foreign Trade (ULACEX), and the Technological University.

Finally, the National Directorate of International Trade Negotiations (DINECI) of the Vice-Ministry of Foreign Trade has sent representatives to secondary schools, civic groups, and student associations to provide information on the negotiations, which has produced very satisfactory results in terms of public awareness-raising.

  • Call for Public Participation: In light of the issue meetings held with civil society within the FTAA framework for the purpose of increasing civil society’s level of participation in the negotiations, Panama has issued calls for public participation through the National Directorate of International Trade Negotiations (DINECI) of the Vice-Ministry of Foreign Trade, that have been published in the official gazette of the State, with a view to encouraging its civil society to participate and keep itself duly informed. The most recent call, issued in September 2003, resulted in closer ties being established with one of the country's professional associations, the National College of Attorneys.

  • The Web Page: As this was one of the instruments the FTAA Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society had suggested as a means of informing civil society on matters related to the negotiations, the Vice-Ministry of Foreign Trade has set up a website with information on the FTAA negotiations, as well as a direct link to the FTAA public website.

PARAGUAY: The institutions involved in the process of setting up the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), under the General Coordination Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have agreed to create a system to disseminate information on international agenda issues that coordinates the interests of the various national sectors, including the private sector and organized sectors of society, by creating forums for dialogue to allow for the formulation of strategies related to Paraguay's foreign agenda and for defining the top-priority objectives shared between civil society and the government. As a result of the pursuit of this goal, new national strategies generated now and in the future will serve to direct public policies and guide community actions, linking them effectively to the international system.

In an effort to fulfill the mandate issued by the Ministers at Quito to improve the participation of civil society and strengthen the efforts of the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society (SOC), the Republic of Paraguay has organized various working meetings, roundtables, seminars, and debates, structured as issue meetings, with the private sector and society in general, on matters related to the economic integration processes in which Paraguay participates, and, particularly, the FTAA negotiation process.

Further information on consultative and civil society participation mechanisms developed by the Government of Paraguay is included in Annex D (

PERU: As the entity responsible for international trade negotiations, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo - MINCETUR by its Spanish acronym) has been disseminating information on the FTAA negotiations currently underway to civil society on an ongoing basis.

MINCETUR has been using several mechanisms to carry out this task. Open Invitations to Hemispheric Civil Society were publicized on several mass communication media: the MINCETUR webpage and the print media, as well as through direct contact with different civil society members and institutions, under a participation strategy involving different sectors thereof, such as businesses, academia, and experts on specialized issues, among others.

Further information of the most relevant initiatives derived from the joint efforts of the public sector and the private and other civil society sectors are presented in Annex D.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The United States places a great deal of importance on outreach and consultations with domestic civil society throughout the course of trade negotiations, and employs several formal and informal consultative mechanisms to increase civil society awareness of and participation in the FTAA process. For example, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has issued several public notices in the Federal Register and on its website inviting any interested organization or member of the public to comment on all aspects of FTAA negotiations, and has also notified the public via Federal Register and the USTR website of the SOC’s Open and Ongoing Invitation to hemispheric civil society to comment on the FTAA. All civil society responses to the Federal Register are transmitted to U.S. trade negotiators and disseminated throughout the government so that civil society views may be taken into consideration in the development of U.S. positions, and all Federal Register responses are available for public inspection to promote transparency.

In addition to the issuance of Federal Register notices, the U.S. periodically holds public Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) hearings. Public TPSC hearings encourage civil society to provide oral testimony in addition to written comments on any issue related to the FTAA agreement. For example, on September 9-10 2002, the U.S. hosted a TPSC hearing on the effects of the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade and other market liberalization among FTAA participating countries. Sixty-three written responses were received from a broad range of groups representing agricultural, business, labor, environmental, consumer and other NGO interests. Thirty-three persons provided oral testimony on their written contributions to government officials from various U.S. agencies, including USTR and the Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, during the two-day public hearing. Such public hearings give civil society stakeholders the opportunity to express their views directly to government policymakers, and allow government officials to seek clarifications and further explanation in person in order to better understand the various positions expressed by civil society. Beyond formal public hearings, USTR also holds periodic public briefings on the FTAA with senior government officials that allow for open question and answer sessions, and may provide teleconference capacity for members of the public who cannot attend in person. A recent FTAA public briefing was held on July 24, 2003 in Washington, D.C.

The United States also maintains a statutory trade advisory committee system mandated by the U.S. Congress, currently consisting of 33 private sector advisory committees, which provide input and advice to the U.S. Government from the perspective of industry sectors, agricultural sectors, labor, environment, state and local governments, and other interests. USTR also frequently consults with Congress on the FTAA. Additional details regarding the U.S. Trade Policy Consultation process are attached under Annex D.


A. General Characteristics of the Contributions

  1. A total of 43 submissions were received, all of which complied with the formal requirements set forth in the Open and Ongoing Invitation (Annex A Annex B (List of Contributors provides information on the sender, the country of origin and the distribution of civil society contributions. Annex C ( provides the respective contributions, either in full or an executive summary thereof pursuant to the formal requirements of the open invitation.

  2. Of the contributions received, 12% were from organizations and/or individuals from South American countries. Contributions from North American countries represented 81% of the total and 72% of these were from the United States. Central America and the Caribbean accounted for 7% of the contributions received.

  3. The breakdown of the contributions submitted, in terms of existing economic integration areas in the hemisphere, is as follows: 81% from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 5% from the Andean Community, 5% from MERCOSUR, 7% from the Central American Common Market (CACM), and none from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

  4. With regard to the content of the contributions, a broad range of viewpoints was submitted, related to issues addressed in the negotiating groups, committees, and the consultative group, as well as on the general scope of the FTAA.

  5. Several of the contributions expressed opinions on more than one of the issues addressed by Negotiating Groups and other FTAA entities. Respondents to the Open Invitation were requested to indicate on the standard cover sheet which FTAA entity(ies) to which the contribution pertains. The SOC forwarded the contributions to the various entities based on the information provided by the submitter. Contributions were addressed to the following negotiating groups: Market Access is the issue area that generated the most contributions, receiving 14 contributions, representing 33% of the total; FTAA Process drew 11 contributions (26%); Agriculture drew 10 contributions (23%); SOC drew 10 contributions (23%); Services drew 9 contributions (21%); Investment drew 8 contributions (19%); Intellectual Property Right drew 7 contributions (16%); Subsidies, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties drew 7 contributions (16%); Government Procurement drew 6 contributions (14%); Dispute Settlement drew 4 contributions (9%); Competition Policy drew 3 contributions (7%); Institutional Issues drew 3 contributions (7%); Smaller Economies drew 2 contributions (5%); Electronic Commerce drew 2 contributions (5%).

B. Range of views received:

Negotiating Groups

Market Access
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/61, 62, 67, 69, 72, 81, 82, 84, 87, 90, 91, 96, 97, 99)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Market Access:

  • The FTAA should incorporate a development clause into the text on market access provisions. This clause should state that a country may increase, during the transition period, its tariff protection of a product that it begins to manufacture and that it did not manufacture at the outset of the tariff elimination process.

  • The base tariff for the FTAA negotiations should be set at the World Trade Organization maximum bound tariff level.

  • Goods manufactured in customs-free zones should receive, through mechanisms that harmonize the existing incentives, the benefits of the tariff elimination programs accorded under the FTAA and, given the complexity of the topic and of the different systems operating in the various FTAA customs-free zones, the Tripartite Committee needs to study the topic further.

  • The rules of origin as proposed in the draft agreement do not encourage trade directly among members of the FTAA countries but instead will afford extensive duty-free treatment of goods and services of countries that will not be signatories to the agreement. The agreement should promote extensive use of raw materials grown or produced within the countries if preferential treatment is to be granted to the article.

  • The FTAA negotiations should continue striving for the earliest possible removal of all tariffs, quotas, and other barriers to trade, more specifically, the elimination of a high proportion of tariffs within five years. The negotiators can pursue various procedures toward this end, including the immediate removal of low tariffs, the adoption of ceiling rates from which progressive reductions can be made, and the establishment of sectoral arrangements, where appropriate. Additionally, each FTAA country should be required to grant “national treatment” to goods of any other FTAA country.

  • The FTAA Agreement should comprehensively eliminate tariffs on substantially all trade and should be as front-loaded as possible. As many sectors as possible should have their duties immediately removed upon entry into effect of the agreement. Rules of origin should be objective and transparent and there should be consistency in import clearance procedures. A safeguard system is necessary to assure weaker sectors in FTAA countries that they will be given the opportunity to adjust.

  • The FTAA should include mechanisms aimed at preventing countries from replacing falling duties with new non-tariff barriers.

  • The FTAA market access agreement should result in the immediate reciprocal elimination of tariffs on carrageenan, a food-stabilizing agent derived from seaweed, classified under HTS No. 1302.39.00, and microcrystalline cellulose (“MCC”), which is a naturally derived stabilizer and food agent, classified under HTS. 3912.90.00.

  • The current second draft agreement chapter on Market Access contains a definition (Article 12, Definitions, Page 5.92) for an international standardization body that limits international standards solutions and disadvantages some industry sectors in FTAA countries. Through direct reference to solely two organizations, the current definition pointedly excludes a multitude of international standardization options. This definition should be modified to reflect the principles that are included in the Second Triennial Review of the Operation and Implementation of the WTO/TBT Agreement in Annex 4.

  • The FTAA should permit each party to make distinctions concerning market access based partially on the environmental impacts of production, as long as there is no clear and convincing violation of national treatment.

  • Duty drawback should be maintained in full rather than eliminated.

(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/62, 66, 69, 80, 86, 88, 91, 92, 95, 96)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Agriculture:

  • The base tariff for the FTAA negotiations should be set at the World Trade Organization maximum bound tariff level.

  • The FTAA agreement should include fair trade rules for agriculture, such as: special and differential treatment, taking into account the food security needs and the interests of small producers; the end of the dumping of cheap food by rich countries, which destroys the livelihood of millions of farmers in developing countries by forcing them to compete unfairly in their local markets; improved market access for developing countries; and greater equity in the marketplace, giving countries the flexibility to support small producers and regulate the monopolistic behavior of transnational agricultural corporations.

  • There must be a strong commitment among all participants to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in all agricultural commodities and value-added finished food products. Additionally the FTAA should include clear rules on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, and the elimination of all subsidies on exports and domestic production. Compliance in agricultural trade would be aided by regulatory transparency. Furthermore, countries in the region should pledge to neither extend subsidies on their own exports, nor to admit subsidized imports from outside the region.

  • The negotiations on agriculture need to address the issues of animal welfare and environmental protection. The FTAA Parties should consider the economic benefits of adopting more humane, animal friendly and environmentally responsible agriculture production methods.

  • Sound trade policy must allow governments to ensure competitive markets for family farmers. In such it must not prevent countries from establishing domestic and global food reserves, managing supply, enforcing antidumping disciplines, ensuring fair market prices, or vigorously enforcing antitrust laws.

  • Food safety must be guaranteed by the States, and governments must have the right to protect, or exclude from trade agreements, food products that constitute part of the basic diet of the peoples of many countries. Governments must also ensure that small producers are not excluded from financing or attacked for unfair competition. Sanitary and phytosanitary standards must guarantee the high quality and safety of food for consumers.

  • The duties on imported orange, grapefruit, lemon and grape juice products should not be reduced. The current competitive balance between imported and domestic-origin juice should be preserved by maintaining the present duty regime.

  • Import regimes limiting access to world-price sugar, dairy and peanuts should be aggressively liberalized.

  • The FTAA Agreement should eliminate high tariffs and non-tariff barriers to sugar confectionery, chocolate and chocolate confectionery products.

(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/64, 66, 77, 87, 88, 89, 91, 94)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Investment:

  • Investor-state provisions can limit the power of governments to provide environmental protection in allowing private companies to sue sovereign states for perceived profit losses.

  • The application of NAFTA’s Chapter 11 Investor-State Mechanisms has meant limiting the capacity of governments to safeguard environment, health and other social values when there are conflicting commercial interests.
  • The FTAA agreement should regulate FDI to promote national development by including: measures to develop links between the export sector and the local economy, ensuring the development of local production capacities; the promotion of international labor and environmental standards and other measures to create positive contributions to sustainable development; controls to limit the flow of speculative and short-term investment; and limits to foreign investors’ ability to bypass the laws and courts of host countries, and the elimination of the concept of indirect expropriation.

  • The FTAA should eliminate trade-distorting rules affecting cross-border investment within the region. Furthermore, FTAA countries should afford other FTAA countries the better of national treatment or most favored nation (MFN) treatment when the investors are in like circumstances. These protections should hold when they are initiating investment, as well as throughout the tenure of that investment. The FTAA agreements should endorse classic expropriation disciplines and afford investors the right to submit investment disputes to international arbitration. We would also like to express our approval and support for the exclusion of labor and environmental standards from the investment chapter of the FTAA.

  • Efforts should be made to negotiate environmentally responsible investment rules.

  • Investment provisions must not empower investors to file legal challenges to domestic public interest standards or policies. Sound investment policy must allow governments to regulate corporations in the pursuit of economic, environmental, social, and public health goals.

  • The second draft text stills retains bracketed text that defines expropriation in such a broad way that it threatens a government’s ability to protect the environment and the health of its citizens. There is no reason that expropriation needs to be defined so broadly nor is there any reason to give foreign investors more rights that domestic investors.

  • If investment is to benefit a host country there must be linkages back to the domestic economy and performance requirements are one method of doing so. We request that performance requirements be a right all FTAA countries may use.

  • All FTAA governments should be free to use capital controls in order to prevent rapid capital outflows that create instability and economic crises. Capital controls have been recommended as a sound tool of economic policy and yet it is unclear in the FTAA draft text whether they will be prohibited or not.

  • The FTAA Investment Agreement should have broad coverage, providing for both direct and portfolio investments. It should guarantee investors the right to transfer funds into and out of the FTAA host country without delay.

  • FTAA investment rules should not grant investors any rights greater than those rights that investors already enjoy under U.S. law. The FTAA should contain a broad carve-out allowing governments to regulate corporate behavior to protect the economic, social, and health and safety interests of their citizens. The FTAA should rely on government-to-government rather than investor-to-state dispute resolution, and all dispute resolution mechanisms should be fully transparent and accessible to interested members of the public.

(Submissions: FTAA/soc/civ/65, 68, 69, 79, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Services:

  • Services relating to health care, water and other vital human services should be excluded from commitments. An assessment of the impact of trade in services is required; as it is in Article XIX of the GATS, and such assessments must assure that policy proposals do not have an adverse impact on health or create conditions that undermine health promotion. Trade rules should not compromise countries’ rights and abilities to enact and enforce regulations regarding their health care systems.

  • The services provided by notaries should be included in the exception for services provided in the exercise of government authority and should be expressly excluded from the principle of free movement of services.

  • International trade in services is a rapidly growing element of total trade, and we believe that throughout the FTAA agreement, there should be a maximum liberalization of all modes of supply, as well as national treatment for service providing companies operating in foreign markets. Beyond the necessary market access issues that negotiators face, they will need to provide for simplified business travel procedures. Other key elements for services trade include clear professional qualification requirements, and technical standards and licensing requirements based on objective criteria, such as professional competence. Negotiators should also provide for transparency in rule making, with opportunity for public comment on proposed rules, and harmonization or mutual recognition of professional standards.

  • Sound trade policy must include a carve-out for essential public services such as public benefits programs, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, and utilities. An exclusion must also be made for services which require extensive regulation or have an inherently social component including maritime, air, surface, and other transportation, postal services, energy utilities, corrections, and childcare.

  • Public education (especially primary school), social services, other critical human services, and water be excluded from the FTAA agreement through the use of carve outs.

  • The market access rules governing trade in services should not prohibit a government from conditioning permission to provide a particular service on a service provider’s commitment to also provide certain unprofitable services. The FTAA should also allow local, state, or national governments to place limits on the number of service providers in a certain sector or region and allow each country flexibility to protect local businesses that are vital to the national economy.

  • The FTAA should promote ambitious liberalization while respecting the need for appropriate and least trade-disruptive regulation. There should be no quantitative restrictions on the provision of services to those sectors or methods of provision of services for which the parties have entered into liberalization commitments, and no sector should be excluded on an a priori basis.

  • Any integration agreement must take into account that most basic services have the characteristics of natural monopolies or of public goods. Consequently, the rules that should regulate the provision of services cannot be the same rules that apply to goods.

  • The FTAA should not constrain the ability of governments to regulate services and to protect and promote public services. Services rules should be negotiated sector by sector and the FTAA should contain a broad, explicit carve-out for all public services. The FTAA should not include commitments on temporary work visas until these visa programs are revised to protect the rights of all workers.

Government Procurement
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/69, 76, 88, 89, 91, 94)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Government Procurement:

  • The FTAA should remove domestic preferences and requirements in government procurement with limited exceptions (e.g., for sensitive sectors and national security), because such preferences reduce the ability of governments to make the most efficient use of fiscal resources. Provisions of the agreement should also address issues of transparency, openness, and due process in government procurement. Furthermore, the FTAA agreement should include rules that ensure non-discriminatory treatment for suppliers of goods and services from any FTAA bidding on government procurement contracts in any other member country.

  • Trade policy must preserve the right of national, state, and local governments to maintain or establish procurement policies to promote social goals such as equity and sustainable local development.

  • Each FTAA country should be able to use government contracts as a means to promote equity and purchasing decisions should not be limited only to price and quality.

  • The FTAA Agreement should require the publication of laws, regulations, judicial decisions and other measures specifically concerning government procurement. Tendering procedures should be transparent, open and competitive and should require advance public notice of procurement opportunities.

  • FTAA government procurement rules should allow federal, state and local preferences for domestic purchases to continue and should give governments scope to serve important public policy aims such as environmental protection, economic development and social justice, and respect for human rights and worker rights through their purchasing decisions.

Intellectual Property Rights
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/66, 70, 78, 83, 85, 88, 91)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Intellectual Property Rights:

  • The FTAA agreement should include intellectual property rules that guarantee public welfare, such as: the promotion of reforms in the TRIPS agreement and implementation of the Doha Declaration in order to reduce the price of medicines; the prohibition of patents on genetic plant resources for food and agriculture; and keeping intellectual property protection out of the negotiations of the FTAA and other trade agreements in the region.

  • The copyright section of the draft agreement should be deleted in its entirety. The FTAA unduly expands the duration and raises the level of copyright protection beyond the international standards currently evidenced by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  • The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to the promotion of cultural diversity and the transfer of technology, which in turn promotes economic development. We urge that the FTAA set new standards for intellectual property protection beyond those set in existing multilateral or regional agreements. Negotiations should ensure intellectual property protection of patents, proprietary software and other trade secrets, as well as include disciplines for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and service marks. As a vehicle for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, we believe FTAA countries should support measures to reduce piracy and counterfeiting, as well as implement the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Above all, the FTAA should be a “TRIPS plus” agreement, offering protections for IP that go beyond those agreed to within the WTO context.

  • The collective output of Western Hemisphere songwriters, performers, musicians, technicians, and producers is being pirated on a massive scale that, unless adequately addressed, could fundamentally undermine our hemispheric cultural treasure. FTAA negotiators should ensure that the chapter on intellectual property incorporates strong substantive standards and enforcement mechanisms to fight piracy. Creators from lesser-developed nations have a particular stake in the outcome of these negotiations because it affects investment in the creation and distribution of their work.

  • To extend patent terms on pharmaceuticals beyond the 20-year minimum required in TRIPS would be detrimental to countries as it would further limit or delay generic competition. In addition, it is well known that patent offices worldwide, especially small ones with limited resources, are overwhelmed with an increasing number of patent applications. Article 8.2 will penalize small patent offices, and may result in the granting of “bad quality” patents for lack of necessary time of examination. This proposal must be rejected by FTAA negotiators.

  • FTAA negotiators should reject the inclusion of any clause in Section 5, Article 5 (Part II) that would impose more stringent conditions than the TRIPS Agreement requires for the granting of compulsory licenses.

  • Given the potential negative consequences of FTAA on access to essential medicines in developing countries in the Americas, FTAA negotiators should advocate that intellectual property provisions be excluded from the final FTAA Agreement altogether.

  • Certain proposals for intellectual property provisions in the FTAA Agreement threaten to make it impossible for countries in the Americas to exercise the rights that were reaffirmed in Doha. These “TRIPS-Plus” proposals would impose standards on pharmaceuticals that far exceed requirements set forth in the TRIPS Agreement, and would subject countries in the Americas to more stringent patent regimes than any other region in the world.

  • Sound trade policy must allow governments to take actions to protect public health by ensuring access to medicines. It must not constrain the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange, or sell farm-saved seeds and other publicly available seed varieties. Intellectual property protections must allow for the respect and protection of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, and must not require the issuance of patents on living organisms or their genetic parts and components.

Competition Policy
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/73, 91, 92)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Competition Policy:

  • The FTAA should mandate that member countries apply strong national competition policies, to promote cooperation among national competition authorities and to avoid activities that encourage or tolerate private anti-competitive behavior, such as cartels.

  • Rules on official monopolies and state enterprises should be included in the text of the FTAA Agreement and should ensure that when the state participates in commercial activities, its FTAA trading partners are not subject to discrimination.

  • Effective competition laws and policies, rooted in local conditions, must be in place if countries and consumers are to benefit from market integration and trade liberalization. FTAA countries should create independent entities that possess the authority and credibility needed to implement the laws effectively and harmonize competition practices and jurisprudence.

Subsidies, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/66, 69, 71, 87, 88, 91, 94)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Subsidies, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties:

  • The FTAA Agreement should provide fair trade rules for agriculture, including rules to address dumping of cheap food.

  • The FTAA Agreement should not require proof that dumped or subsidized imports are the principal cause of injury to the domestic industry, as it is burdensome and costly to provide such documentation. In addition, the term “small economy” should be defined.

  • We strongly recommend the elimination of all trade-distorting subsidies within the region.

  • Antidumping and countervailing duty regulations should conform to agreed standards and be clear and transparent. In addition, all parties to enforcement actions should have adequate opportunity to present their views. National authorities should provide for judicial review in cases where administrative officials are alleged to have departed from standards in law and regulation.

  • Efforts should be made to eliminate environmentally damaging subsidies in natural resource sectors such as fisheries and forest products to reduce both environmental degradation and distortions in trade flows.

  • Sound trade policy must allow governments recourse to transparent and effective trade remedy laws which provide workers, businesses, and farmers safeguards from import surges, dumping, and unfair foreign trade practices. Trade remedy laws are an important tool in protecting domestic industries from economic attacks.

  • The FTAA Agreement should: include disciplines on anti-dumping proceedings affecting intra-FTAA trade in goods; acknowledge that an FTA changes economic conditions; help ensure trade remedies are not abused; and facilitate liberalization beyond WTO disciplines.

  • Antidumping and countervailing duty regulations and cases should conform to agreed standards and be clear and transparent. All parties in antidumping and countervailing duty cases should have adequate opportunity to present their views. The FTAA Agreement should: include disciplines on anti-dumping proceedings affecting intra-FTAA trade in goods; acknowledge that an FTA changes economic conditions; help ensure trade remedies are not abused; and facilitate liberalization beyond WTO disciplines. In addition, the FTAA Agreement should: establish methods to assure that all subsidies that have trade-distorting effects are identified and eliminated in time periods not to exceed that of tariff elimination; require that the use of constructed value and constructed export price in antidumping cases be explained/justified; and require application of the lesser duty rule in voluntary price undertakings. Finally, national authorities should provide for judicial review.

  • The FTAA must not in any way infringe on the right of countries to protect their industries, workers and farmers from unfair trade practices. Effective and transparent domestic trade remedy laws must remain available to ensure that international trade is fair and balanced and to allow domestic industry and workers to adjust to international competition. The draft text of the agreement contains provisions that would weaken U.S. trade laws by imposing tight restrictions, and even some outright prohibitions, on methodologies currently used in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. These proposed provisions-and any other provisions that could undermine U.S. trade laws-are unacceptable.

Dispute Settlement
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/69, 74, 86, 88)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Negotiating Group for Dispute Settlement:

  • The FTAA agreement should promote an efficient and expeditions method for dispute settlement so small and minority enterprises and small economies will not be unfairly punished through extended administrative and judicial process that are not affordable to them.

  • To build confidence in the integrity of the FTAA, the agreement should establish a dispute settlement mechanism. There is now a considerable body of experience with the dispute resolution arrangements in the WTO and certain regional agreements that can guide negotiators in design of a mechanism suitable for the FTAA.

  • The FTAA Agreement should encourage and facilitate the use of arbitration and other means of alternative dispute resolution for the settlement of private commercial disputes.

  • The FTAA Agreement should require governments to provide appropriate procedures and remove legal and other obstacles to ensure the observance of agreements to arbitrate and for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards.

  • The settlement of disputes is an important part of the FTAA and should be as inclusive as possible. The current text contains some troubling language that is neither transparent not allows for the participation of civil society in the process. These issues need to be addressed in a manner that provides for greater transparency in the process and a system that is more open to the participation of civil society.

  • Any dispute resolution mechanisms established by the FTAA must be open and transparent, including public disclosure of documents and access to hearings. In addition, submission of amicus briefs must be permitted, and standing for state, regional, and local governments as interveners must be accorded.

Committees and Consultative Group

Institutional Issues
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/60, 86, 100)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Technical Committee on Institutional Issues:

  • The FTAA should incorporate occupational health and safety provisions comparable to those contained within NAFTA, and should also include similar mechanisms for compliance enforcement such as those provided under the Supplemental Agreements to NAFTA.

  • The right of individual parties to the FTAA to establish unilateral standards designed to protect the health and safety of their citizens and the environment must be maintained.

  • A mechanism should be created to allow for the formal participation of civil society in the FTAA process. This would be a bold and innovative proposal and exactly the type of mechanism that will be important to the future of the FTAA.

  • Capacity building and technical assistance are important aspects of the FTAA process but have not received either the attention or the resources necessary to address the needs of the region. The FTAA Parties should create a mechanism whereby governments, NGOs, corporations and other private parties could join forces to begin to address the capacity building needs of the region.

  • The FTAA is an important tool that may provide the basis for greater economic development in the Western Hemisphere. However, if environmental protection issues, sustainable development and labor issues are not addressed in the agreement then it will ultimately be unsuccessful.

Civil Society
(Submissions: FTAA/soc/civ/60, 65, 86, 87, 88, 89, 93, 94, 99, 100)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Committee of Government Representatives for the Participation of Civil Society:

  • Upward harmonization of occupational health and safety and environmental standards brought about by NAFTA must be included and maintained in the FTAA. Equally important, enforcement mechanisms contained within the NAFTA Supplementary Agreements must also be included in the FTAA.

  • The SOC should immediately publish all the responses to the Open and Ongoing Invitation online, and inform every respondent where the comments are published.

  • It is extremely important that civil society in each of the 34 countries have opportunities to engage in the FTAA process to provide insight and guidance to the negotiators. The citizens of each FTAA Party must be provided with adequate information about the process and encouraged to effectively engage with their representatives in the negotiations.

  • Efforts should be made to promote public participation, openness, transparency, and accountability as cornerstones of the FTAA process to ensure dissemination of important information and instill public confidence in FTAA negotiations.

  • The broad array of constituencies representing the majority of the peoples of the Hemisphere including labor unions, environmental organizations, farm and campesino organizations, public health advocates, faith-based organizations, and civil and human rights advocates must be accorded at least the same access to trade negotiators and the negotiation process as those constituencies representing commercial interests. Procedures for public comment on negotiations must include public hearings as well as mechanisms to ensure full disclosure to and input from state and local governments.

  • In the interest of transparency and democracy, the full texts of each country’s negotiating positions should be made public. In addition, all the governments should commit to releasing any future versions of the consolidated draft negotiating text along with notations identifying the countries making the proposals contained within it.

  • In each country, negotiators should meet directly with representative civil society groups before each negotiating session. Following each session, the negotiators should then report back on how the issues raised by civil society groups were addressed in the negotiations.

  • The Open Invitation continues to be a one-way dialogue in which many civil society groups spend hours putting our advocacy positions and analysis on official paper that never sparks any meaningful dialogue on the different critiques of the FTAA in the different sectoral areas.

  • Regional seminars are organized as public relations events and not substantive debates.

  • Civil society groups should be allowed to participate in the FTAA Ministerial meetings with consultative status (as has been instituted at the United Nations).

  • The FTAA SOC has not been an effective avenue for communication and democratic processes to date. Reports do not contribute to any shift in the negotiations of the FTAA. Although strides have clearly been made, they are but small gestures and do not ensure full transparency in the negotiations.

  • Negotiators should solicit public comments through public hearings, not just in writing through the SOC.

  • The SOC should provide a timely response to civil society participants, explaining whether and how their input has impacted the content of the negotiations.

  • Citizens in every country have a right to know not only what the draft FTAA proposals are, but which ones their government is supporting and opposing. In addition, all of the new market access proposals submitted this year should also be made public. Once the agreement is concluded, dispute resolution measures should also be open to the pubic. A transparent, inclusive, and democratic process, both for the negotiation of the FTAA and for its eventual implementation, is essential to ensure the legitimacy of the FTAA process.

Smaller Economies
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/88, 92)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made to the FTAA Consultative Group on Smaller Economies:

  • Sound trade policy requires additional assistance and respect for diversity of development paths. Special and differential treatment must be granted for developing countries with regard to the timeframe for implementation of the agreement as well as local development and public health concerns. In addition, debt relief is essential for successful economic integration.

  • All integration agreements must give priority to granting non-reciprocal concessions to small and less-developed economies. Agreements may be tilted in favor of countries with greater economic capacity, unless provisions are included to compensate for inequalities.

Electronic Commerce
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/75, 91)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made regarding the FTAA process:

  • The FTAA countries should agree not to impose tariffs or taxes on online transactions at rates higher than those levied on non-online transactions.

FTAA Process
(Submissions: FTAA.soc/civ/58, 59, 61, 63, 66, 85, 87, 88, 89, 94, 98)

  1. The submissions on this topic expressed a range of views, in some cases divergent. By way of illustration, the following suggestions were made regarding the FTAA process:
  • Governments should ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Their Families and consider migration issues in the processes and mechanisms of negotiation.

  • The governments of the countries of the region should include a specific consideration on the subject of migration in the processes and mechanisms of negotiation, and also create specific institutions to resolve working conflicts jeopardizing the rights of migrant workers. In this context, governments should also ratify the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.

  • FTAA should evolve toward an economic union with efficient and fair financial markets and regulations for international trade and money flows.

  • The FTAA should incorporate provisions, designed by the Tripartite Committee, for cooperation mechanisms for helping small and medium enterprises participate in the FTAA. These mechanisms should include studies, access to trade statistics information, training in international trade, identification of specific know-how, the provision of advisory services, and financial support measures that enable these mechanisms to be effectively implemented.

  • The FTAA Ministerial Declarations must include a commitment to free the Hemisphere of the high level of corruption institutionalized at all levels of governments and in business circles, which keeps people in poverty.

  • The trade and investment policies put forth by the FTAA do not promote sustainable development and poverty reduction and could further intensify the scenario of inequality and exclusion in the region.

  • FTAA negotiators should insist on the inclusion of footnotes in the draft text that would clearly indicate the various negotiating positions advanced by the 34 countries that are parties to the Agreement. The inclusion of footnotes would increase the level of transparency in the negotiations and greatly enhance efforts to engage in an informed public debate about crucial issues in the FTAA Agreement.

  • Efforts should be made to assist in the development of hemispheric cooperation and capacity building in trade and environment as an integral component of the FTAA process.

  • A broad and comprehensive assessment of trade-related environmental effects, initiated immediately, is necessary to assess the positive and negative environmental implications of trade liberalization. The feasibility of working with the Tripartite Committee and other intergovernmental institutions to develop appropriate grant mechanisms to offset the costs associated with these reviews should be considered.

  • Trade rules must be crafted so they do not diminish the environmental protections that nations have provided for their citizens and resources. Each FTAA member country must retain the right to develop and enforce high conservation measures through trade measures even if they exceed international norms without running afoul of FTAA rules.

  • FTAA negotiators must fully integrate environmental protection goals in the FTAA negotiating agenda, for example, by improving FTAA deference to national environmental standards and multilateral environmental agreements, incorporating environmental impact assessments integrally into FTAA negotiations, eliminating environmentally damaging subsidies, negotiating environmentally responsible investment rules, and ensuring public participation and transparency.

  • Sound trade policy must allow nations to follow public interest standards adopted in reliance on the precautionary principle.

  • All trade agreements must include enforceable workers rights and environmental protections including adherence to core labor standards as established by the International Labor Organization - freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, a minimum age for employment of children, and prohibitions on forced labor and employment discrimination. Trade policy must also include binding non-derogation from existing domestic labor and environmental laws.

  • Sound trade policy must respect the rights and obligations of countries under multilateral environmental, labor, and human rights agreements. A complete evaluation of the social and gender impacts of a possible FTAA must be conducted. Impact assessments are a prerequisite for negotiating just policies that benefit the majority of people.

  • The FTAA must incorporate enforceable worker rights and environmental standards in its core; measures to ensure that countries retain the ability to regulate the flow of speculative capital; debt relief measures; equitable and transparent market access rules that allow for effective protection against import surges, dumping, and unfair trade subsidies; and a transparent, inclusive, and democratic process.

  1. FTAA Ministers consider the SOC Committee “an important mechanism for fulfilling [their] commitment to transparency” and instructed the Committee to continue its work. The Committee will continue to ensure that Ministers and those responsible for negotiating the FTAA are presented with the range of views from contributions submitted by individuals and organizations around the Hemisphere on all FTAA negotiating topics, as well as those related to the FTAA process in general. The views expressed constitute a valuable contribution to the negotiations, and civil society is urged to continue to make contributions in a constructive manner on trade-related issues of relevance to the FTAA.

Annex A: Open and Ongoing Invitation (December 2002)
Annex B: List of Contributions (May 2002 - May 11, 2003)
Annex C: Contributions or Executive Summaries of Contributions
Annex D: Additional information on the best practices and illustrative examples of consultations with civil society at the national/regional level
Annex E: FTAA SOC Issue Meeting with Civil Society on the topic of Agriculture
Annex F: FTAA SOC Issue Meeting with Civil Society on the topic of Services
Annex G: Andean Community Regional Seminar
countries sitemap a-z list governmental contact points