Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA

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FTAA.soc/civ/66/Add.1
January 27, 2003


Original: English

FTAA - COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CIVIL SOCIETY

OPEN INVITATION CONTRIBUTIONS


Name(s): Jo Marie Griesgraber
Organization(s): Oxfam America
Country: United States

Summary

Trade and investment have great potential for creating sustainable development, reducing poverty and meeting basic rights. Instead of realizing this potential, however, trade and investment have contributed to increasing poverty, greater inequality between and within countries, and a greater concentration of wealth produced by the global economy.
Oxfam International believes that these contradictions are a result of the unfair rules that govern trade and international investment, as well as the double standards by which rich countries and large companies define their own terms for inclusion in the global economy, to the detriment of poorer countries.
Oxfam International has launched the Make Trade Fair campaign, aimed at changing international trade rules, especially those of the World Trade Organization. However, parallel to the WTO, the plan to integrate Latin America and the Caribbean into the Free Trade Area of the Americas is moving forward at full speed. Some aspects go much further than the most worrisome WTO rules, as in the case of investment and intellectual property.
In addition to the FTAA, the US is pushing for other bilateral and sub regional agreements at an accelerated pace. A free trade agreement between the United States and Central America (CAFTA), which reproduces the same framework of rules, has been given particular momentum.
In 2001, 214 million people, nearly 43% of the Latin American population, were living in poverty, 92.8 million (18.6%) of whom lived in abject poverty. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projections for 2002 indicate a poverty increase of approximately 7 million people, of whom nearly 6 million are living in extreme poverty.i Any integration project in the Americas should address this social reality, but 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.
Oxfam International opposes the FTAA and we, along with a broad range of civil society organizations on the continent, propose that alternative rules be discussed for a different type of integration, such as those put forth by the Hemispheric Social Alliance and the continental campaign against the FTAA.
Eliminating poverty and promoting development in the Americas require radical changes in the existing trade and investment rules. Oxfam International has prioritized three themes: agriculture, investment and intellectual property, for which we propose the following:



i Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean. Panorama Social de AmÚrica Latina, 2001-2002. November, 2002. Available at: www.cepal.cl

 
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