August 12, 2003
Translation: FTAA Secretariat
FTAA – CONSULTATIVE GROUP ON SMALLER ECONOMIESHEMISPHERIC COOPERATION PROGRAM
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.
- Project Title
Increased Participation of Civil Society in the FTAA Process
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:
- Growing interest in trade negotiation issues and wider participation and
tracking of the processes.
- Civil society is better informed and has been receiving a continuous flow of
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.
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
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.
- Objectives of the project:
Promote the participation of civil society in the negotiation process being
carried out within the FTAA.
- Specific Goals:
Train key players of civil society in FTAA trade negotiation issues.
Create a substantial pool of human resources trained in trade negotiations.
Preparation of documents to be used in human resource training.
- 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
Consultant in charge of preparing a master document
5 consultants to prepare the sectoral documents (five sectors would be
Logistics and rental of premises to hold the courses
Payment of participants lodging and/or transportation
Photocopying of material
Person responsible for the logistics and general preparation of the courses
- 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
- Other relevant information
1 Drafted by the Civil Society Group of the Civil
Society Consultative Committee, Dominican Republic, July 2002.