From Miami to Cartagena: nine lessons and nine challenges of the ftaa
In Miami in December 1994 the heads of State of 34 countries of the hemisphere
decided to construct a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by the year 2005. The initiative
was backed by an ambitious Plan of Action which gained further definition in declarations
of the hemisphere’s trade ministers in follow up meetings held in Denver and Cartagena. In effect, the preparatory process for the FTAA is now in gear with eleven intergovernmental
working groups developing data bases, comparative studies, and recommendations for negotiations
in the traditional areas of market access (tariffs and non-tariff barriers) as well as
the so-called “new” issues like services, intellectual property, government procurement etc.
Drawing on several objetive considerations and putting the FTAA project in perspective, the
study concludes that while it is still in its initial stages of preparation for negotiations and
not free of problems, the FTAA process has been successful to date and indeed describes a
number of constructive lessons that can be drawn from the process concerning how to launch
integration initiatives. As this process deepens and passes into the negotiation and implementation
stages, serious challenges will emerge. The study identifies nine challenges that range
from definition of the precise objectives of the governments regarding the basic shape of the
FTAA to specification of institutional issues and the groundwork for public acceptance through
the dissemination of adequate information to the public in general.
JEL Classification: F15; F13; O19.
Keywords: FTAA trade openness economic integration