Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA


Trade Negotiations

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August 12, 2003

Original: Spanish
Translation: FTAA Secretariat




I. Introduction

The pace of trade negotiations has quickened in recent years and, as a result, trade barriers continue to fall, while economic and financial globalization takes everdeeper root. The process has been spearheaded by the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly the developed countries in their quest to consolidate large trade blocs to secure large markets and a more amenable environment for their products and investments.

The active participation of civil society organizations in trade negotiations is crucial to any improvement in the quality of the negotiations, to the extent that the various organizations are conversant with the various issues under negotiation and, in particular, its impact on people’s well-being. This last point, however, constitutes one of the main barriers to effective participation of civil society in trade negotiations.
  1. Project Title

    Increased Participation of Civil Society in the FTAA Process

  2. Background

    In 1997 the Dominican Government set up the National Commission on Trade Negotiations as the entity in charge of conducting the negotiation of a free trade agreement with Central America and CARICOM. The Civil Society Consultative Committee was set up alongside the Commission, to which it reports, with duties that include providing advisory services and monitoring the negotiations. In 1999, the Government decided to subsume under the Commission all the negotiations in which the Dominican Republic was engaged. For the Commission, this meant performing its duties in a much broader context which encompassed negotiations in the FTAA, the WTO, and the European Union.

    Although this Committee has been open to the public, it should be noted that most of the entities that work in this Committee form part of the business sector. Other civil society organizations are yet to be involved, because of lack of information on the process and the complexity of the negotiations, which make it difficult for them to make the link between their realities and issues being negotiated. In order to cope with the large volume of work that will be generated by the FTAA negotiation process, the Consultative Committee has sought a way to broaden its scope through national outreach aimed at further mainstreaming civil society.

    Some of the organizations active in the Consultative Committee on Civil Society have also carried out various training programs, which have produced tangible results, such as:

    1. Growing interest in trade negotiation issues and wider participation and tracking of the processes.
    2. Civil society is better informed and has been receiving a continuous flow of information.

    Although some achievements have been made, ongoing support for this type of effort is increasingly needed to ensure that the progress made is not lost, and that civil society’s interest and participation is parlayed into changes in policies on international integration and trade-negotiation strategies.

  3. Rationale

    Given the demand for more information for better negotiations, and in an effort to promote true development of the Dominican Republic through trade, the Consultative Committee on Civil Society is committed to increasing the number of its constituent organizations. Nonetheless, the shortage of information on the negotiations and the highly technical level of analysis needed are preventing organizations from participating effectively and from establishing the necessary links between their immediate work environment and the international trade negotiation process.

    FTAA negotiations have entered a phase in which there is a need to bring to the table for discussion the impact of the negotiations of each of the agreements on each sector, rather than a need for higher participation. In view of the need for updated information, and for timely, incisive, and targeted contributions, the participation of key sectors is all the more necessary, particularly those sectors that, by their very nature, do not have the wherewithal to understand the process underway in the FTAA, much less to provide their viewpoint, since they do not understand the context.

  4. Objectives of the project:

    1. Overall objective
      Promote the participation of civil society in the negotiation process being carried out within the FTAA.
    2. Specific Goals:
      1. Train key players of civil society in FTAA trade negotiation issues.
      2. Create a substantial pool of human resources trained in trade negotiations.
      3. Preparation of documents to be used in human resource training.

  5. Inputs :

      To achieve the desired outcomes, we propose holding 5 formal courses, each of which would last approximately three days. The courses could be structured as follows:

      Consultant in charge of preparing a master document
      5 consultants to prepare the sectoral documents (five sectors would be addressed)
      Logistics and rental of premises to hold the courses
      Payment of participants lodging and/or transportation
      3 instructors
      Photocopying of material
      Person responsible for the logistics and general preparation of the courses

  6.  Expected Results

    • At the national level, at least 50 persons trained in trade negotiations.
    • The participants, in turn, pass on their knowledge at a more general level.
    • More in–depth understanding of the FTAA process and wider participation of civil society
  7. Other relevant information

1 Drafted by the Civil Society Group of the Civil Society Consultative Committee, Dominican Republic, July 2002.
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