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FTAA On Track For 2005 Conclusion From Washington Trade Daily - Jan 21, 2002
Jan 22, 2002

The need to focus on the war on terrorism has not diminished the Bush Administration’s commitment to complete a hemisphere-wide free trade agreement by 2005, a top White House trade official said Friday (WTD, 1/17/02).

If anything, the events of September 11 made the Free Trade Area of the Americas even more critical as an engine for economic growth both in the United States and throughout the hemisphere, Deputy US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier told a meeting of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Progress toward the FTAA continues to move along – steadily and quietly, Mr. Allgeier said. Negotiating teams continue to meet week after week in Panama City. Negotiations on the crucial issue of market access will begin this spring and a key ministerial-level meeting is slated for this October that will signal the start of the final phase of the negotiations – under the joint leadership of the United States and Brazil. Brazil and the US

Despite some long-standing trade tensions between the United States and Brazil, Mr. Allgeier said he expects the two countries will work well together to see the FTAA to conclude on time. The US official refuted charges that Brazil is not interested in the FTAA, saying Brasilia has been playing a key role since the start of the talks. While negotiations on the FTAA continue, Washington will also be pursuing more bilateral trade agreements in the region, Mr. Allgeier said. More and more countries are expressing an interest in bilateral free trade pacts with the United States – although not all that have made overtures are likely candidates at this time, he noted.

A free trade agreement with Chile will wrap up in the first part of this year that is likely to be a model in many aspects for the FTAA (WTD, 1/17/02). President Bush has also just announced interest in pursuing an FTA with the five Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (WTD, 1/17/02). A separate dialogue is underway with Panama, although it is unclear at this point where those talks will lead, he said.

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