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Information on FTAA Ministers meeting in Quito Ecuador - 10/31-11/2

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002

It's time once again for fair traders to take action!

Below are a number of different resources, information and action steps to take around the 7th FTAA Ministerial scheduled for this October 31 - November 2nd in Quito, Ecuador. The FTAA is an expansion of NAFTA - essentially NAFTA + WTO = FTAA. It is an attempt to extend the race to the bottom, privatization and deregulation, anti-democratic agenda of so-called "free" trade to the entire hemishpere and is one of the key agreements for which the Bush Administration seeks to use its newly granted Fast Track authority. Check out the Global Trade Watch website,, which we are updating daily, for more information both on the mobilizations and solidarity actions around the Quito Ministerial as well as for general information on the FTAA (you can also find info on: You can contact Global Trade Watch directly for more info at

More updates will follow this week, but for now, please check out the info/articles below:


1)FTAA Ministerial - Halloween Fun!

The next Ministerial meeting of the FTAA - 34 countries in an expansion of NAFTA all the way from the Arctic to the bottom of Argentina - will take place beginning October 31 in Quito, Ecuador. The US is represented by Ambassador Robert Zoellick who is the US Trade Representative.

The Ministers are to discuss the release of the current text, and moving the process along (this is the first one of these meetings since the US Congress approved FAST TRACK).

When the last version was released on July 3rd, 2001, the draft showed each and every proposal (but not which country or countries had proposed the concept) run together like a bad run on sentence (435 pages worth). This bracketed text was almost impossible to interpret because you can't tell what the outcome or meaning of the sentence might be.

Now in a push for "transparency" organizations have been sending letters urging the release of the text again - but this time with names of the countries making the proposal. You too can urge the US Trade Representative to release the text - with full transparency! Follow this link to fax your own letter to USTR Zoellick:

USTR Zoellick on "Trading in Freedom"

On October 14th, USTR Zoellick spoke at the Miami Herald's 6th annual Americas Conference. His speech "Trading in Freedom: The New Endeavor of the Americas" makes a great read - a few highlights:

"We value public input, which we will seek to take into consideration" Zoellick said.

"Fifth we hope that Quito provides another opportunity to engage groups from our civil societies about the FTAA project. We will listen. And we will not shrink from explaining the benefits of free trade.

We have already received unprecedented input from civil society groups and are forwarding their recommendations-in both English and Spanish-to the negotiators on an ongoing basis.

Sixth we look forward to listening and learning from representatives of private enterprise at the Americas Business Forum. The FTAA can only be an enabling framework within which the genius of entrepreneurs, the commitments of investors, and the energy of growing businesses create jobs, growth, and hope for the peoples of the Americas."

And - Zoellick announced the intention to have the next Ministerial in ...Miami in 2003! So while it may be hard to travel to Quito Ecuador for this Ministerial - we can start planning for Miami in 2003. Specific date should be announced at the end of the Quito meeting.

You can read the whole speech here!.

Then send Ambassador Zoellick your thoughts on Transparency:

This is a fine little site that will allow you to send a fax to the USTR, asking him to release the text in a form that can be interpreted and helps us understand which countries are making the proposals.

From your friends at the CWA International Department.

2) Inside US Trade

Date: October 11, 2002

The U.S. wants a meeting of hemispheric trade ministers early next month to set a calendar of deadlines that will allow negotiators to conclude the Free Trade Area of the Americas by Jan. 1, 2005, a deadline the U.S. hopes will also be reaffirmed at the ministerial in Quito, Ecuador, according to Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Americas Regina Vargo. She emphasized the need to get agreement on "mileposts" that will get the talks up and running to meet the end date.

In addition, countries need to decide the chairmanships of the various negotiating groups, she told an Oct. 9 forum of the Washington International Trade Association.

The Nov. 1-3 ministerial will also serve to kick-off the joint U.S.-Brazil chairmanship of the talks, likely with Brazil under the helm of a new left-wing government that is expected to win election before then.

Under the new co-chairmanship, Brazil and the U.S. also will have to agree on how to handle future FTAA ministerials, she said. The U.S. is looking for a ministerial meeting mid-way through the 26 months left before the scheduled date of conclusion.

The U.S. also wants "ambitious directives" from ministers for the removal of brackets — used to denote disagreement — in the FTAA negotiating text, Vargo said. That draft text has been clarified, with many redundancies removed, she said.

Separately, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier said the U.S. "expects" ministers will agree to make those documents public. Speaking at an Oct. 7 forum on the FTAA held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he described the texts as still showing "multiple positions with brackets all over."

The Quito meeting is also scheduled to agree on a technical assistance and capacity building program, based on recommendations being developed by trade officials in Panama this week, Allgeier said. Those assistance efforts are designed to help countries take part in the negotiations, implement new commitments and be better positioned to take advantage of new benefits.

The Quito meeting also will deal with parameters for market access talks, including the fight between Brazil and the U.S. over whether countries can offer speedier tariff reductions to some countries than to others (see related story).

Allgeier expressed confidence that the U.S. and Brazil will continue to work cooperatively in their joint chairmanship of the FTAA, adding "there's no reason to believe that would change with a new administration in Brazil."

The front runner in Brazil's presidential election to be held Oct. 27 is Luiz W."

And - ZoelInacio Lula da Silva, the leader of the Worker's Party. He has called the FTAA a U.S. attempt at annexation of Latin America, but Brazil's Ambassador to the U.S. Rubens Barbosa downplayed the differences between the current government he represents and the trade policy under a possible Lula administration.

"Whoever wins in Brazil will not change our basic positions in the FTAA, Mercosur or WTO," Barbosa said at the CSIS forum. "What you will see will be a more assertive stance." Brazil's basic positions were rooted in its market access priorities, including easing restrictions on its exports like steel and reducing U.S. farm subsidies that undercut its agriculture exports.

He noted that Lula had promised to set up a special trade representative's office close to the presidency and has pledged not to take an "ideological" stance in the FTAA.

Barbosa cautioned that the U.S. position to relegate negotiations on farm subsidies and trade remedy to the WTO, where they can be addressed on a global level, could leave the FTAA hostage to the multilateral talks. These issues are priorities for Brazil in both fora, he said. "What happens to the FTAA if there is no agreement in the WTO?" Barbosa asked.

The formal U.S. notification to Congress on the FTAA contains few surprises and closely tracked fast-track trade negotiating objectives and positions taken to date by the U.S. in those negotiations, according to observers. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in a letter last week formally notified Congress of U.S. objectives for the FTAA.

On agriculture, the U.S. will seek a commitment to eliminate export subsidies in the hemisphere, and "a mechanism" to achieve the same objective in WTO talks. One agriculture source said this might not refer to a formal mechanism, but may refer simply to an agreement between FTAA countries to cooperate in WTO negotiations to seek elimination of export subsidies by the European Union and Japan.

The U.S. will also seek disciplines on the activities of state-trading enterprises, and combat trade barriers including "trade restrictions that affect U.S. technologies," the letter said. U.S. biotech companies have complained about Brazilian restrictions that prevent the planting of bio-tech crops.

The letter states that the U.S. will pursue to eliminate discrimination in services sectors in FTAA countries, including in the financial services and telecommunications sectors, and seek commitments to improve transparency in the regulation of those sectors.

The U.S. will also argue for countries to undertake non-discrimination obligations with respect to government procurement, open up public works projects to U.S. bidders on an equal basis. If applicable to all FTAA members, this would go beyond the obligations now in effect for all WTO members since the government procurement agreement is a plurilateral one.

On trade remedy, USTR pledged to "preserve the ability of the United States to enforce rigorously its antidumping and countervailing duty laws." This is different from the formulation in similar letters on free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, which stated that the U.S. objective was to "make no changes in U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws." But it is also consistent with the negotiating position taken by the U.S. with those agreements — in the bilaterals, it has held fast to its position of no changes on trade remedy, but has been careful not to rule this out in FTAA talks.

On labor and environment, the notification follows language in TPA stating that countries should commit to "strive to ensure that they will not, as an encouragement for trade or investment, weaken or reduce the protectioW."

And - Zoelns
provided for" in their environmental or labor laws.

3) ECUADOR INDYMEDIA: update on the mobilization in Quito, Ecuador

prepared by Indymedia Ecuador
September 9, 2002

(QUITO, ECUADOR) — Two months before the Americas Business Forum and the 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), preparations for the « reception » of those who are laying the foundation for the second colonization of the Americas are gathering force. Bit by bit, grassroots organizations, collectives, and networks from Quito and across the country are elaborating plans, from counter-summits and forums to actions in the streets.

The mobilizations actually began months ago, with the formation of various anti-FTAA spaces, among them the National Campaign Against the FTAA, the the World Social Forum - Ecuador Chapter, RADAK, and a coalition formed by the FENOCIN (see below for more info). In preparation for the actions, dozens of forums, workshops, and meetings have been organized across the country. Between the 13th and 14th of September, this process will accelerate with the Second National Convention Against the FTAA, in the city of Cuenca.

For its part, the Indymedia Ecuador collective plans to add its grain of rice from here forward with permanent coverage and analysis of the preparations, the difficulties that the various campaigns encounter, and general information on October and November. How do we plan to do it? By being the media ourselves, by being Indymedia, every one of us.

¡ALCA NO PASAR-! ¡The FTAA will never be!

Timeline of the Mobilization Against the FTAA

September and October: Four caravans, passing through hundreds of communities, giving workshops on the FTAA, Plan Colombia, art and resistance, and non-violent direct action (CONFEUNASSC-CNC).

October: FENOCIN will organize two marches that will bring people from the Colombian and Peruvian borders to Quito for the days of resistance.

October 12: Grito de los Excluid@s (Cry of the Excluded) day of action, which will have the FTAA as a central theme.

October 26-27: National forum on water issues in the face of neoliberalism and the FTAA (Institute for Third World Ecological Studies).

October 27-28: Continental gathering of campesino organizations under the auspices of the CLOC (Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo): "The impact and consequences of the FTAA in rural communities."

October 27-28: Continental gathering of Friends of the Earth and the Cono Sur Sustentable network, in order to stake out a common position for regional sustainability in the face of globalization and the FTAA (Acción Ecológica).

October 28: Forum with 50 labor leaders from accross the Americas (CEOSL).

October 27-30: Continental gathering for reflection and exchange: « Another America is Possible » (World Social Forum - Ecuador Chapter).

October 29-30: Forum for anti-FTAA legislators and members of congress from across the continent (National Campaign Against the FTAA, Pachakutik).

October 27 to November 1: Continental Days of Resistance Against the FTAA in Quito (National and Continental Campaigns Against the FTAA).

October 31 and November 1: Direct action against the FTAA in Quito.


And - Zoel

Timi Gerson
Organizer/FTAA Coordinator
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003 USA &
Ph: + 202-454-5103, Fax: + 202-547 7392

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