Media Center



September 28, 2000 - Washington, DC

Mr. Robert Faherty, Director of The Brookings Institution Press

Mr. José M. Salazar and Staff of the OAS Trade Unit

Mr. Geza Feketekuty, Professor of Commercial Diplomacy at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies and Contributor to the book.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure and excitement that we present to you today a new publication from the OAS, jointly with The Brookings Institution, covering some of the most pressing challenges confronting the international community at the turn of the century.

The volume we present to you today, entitled "Services Trade in the Western Hemisphere: Liberalization, Integration and Reform", edited by Sherry Stephenson, Deputy Director of the OAS Trade Unit is, to our knowledge, the first book that focuses on the interrelationships between the multilateral, regional and subregional negotiations to bring the services sectors under trade disciplines.

The relevance of the issues discussed by the authors of this book is apparent if you think that Services account on average for around 60% of the total production of the countries of the hemisphere, and for an even larger proportion of the exports of an important number of countries.

This is the second volume produced in partnership with Brookings Institution. The first one, published in 1999: Trade Rules in the Making: Challenges in Regional and Multilateral Negotiations edited by Miguel Rodriguez, Patrick Low and Barbara Kotschwar contains a series of papers by Trade Unit staff and other leading trade experts on issues related to the consistency of regional trade agreements, particularly the FTAA, with the GATT-WTO. Mr. Armacost, let me tell you that we value tremendously the partnership we have now established with The Brookings Institution for high quality publications in the trade area, and I hope we will continue with it in the years to come.

During the last five years the OAS, through its Trade Unit, has been deeply involved in trade and economic integration issues and processes in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in supporting the negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) since this initiative was launched in December 1994.

The work of the OAS in the area of trade includes technical and analytical support for the FTAA negotiating process as well as trade-related technical assistance and training to countries and sub-regions.

In the fulfillment of its mission in recent years the Trade Unit team of experts, reflecting on its own experience, has produced an important stream of contributions to the analysis of trade and integration issues which includes several books and numerous working papers.

The majority of the papers contained in the book that we present to you today were presented at a Conference on "Services Trade and the Western Hemisphere", held in San Jose, Costa Rica in July, 1999.

In turn, this Conference constituted the contribution by the OAS in partnership with the IDB-INTAL and the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, to a series of other events leading up to the initiation of multilateral negotiations in the WTO, the Seattle Ministerial Meeting in December 1999 and the first World Services Congress in Atlanta in November 1999.

The Conference was particularly motivated by the fact that in the Americas countries had launched regional negotiations on services in April 1998, as part of the process to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

I would like to thank the IDB-INTAL and the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica for joining the OAS/CIDI and OAS Trade Unit in sponsoring and organizing this event.

I would also like to recognize the role of the Coalition of Services Industries of the United States (CSI), in particular, of Robert Vastine, Executive Director, for his vision and motivation in the series of events leading up to the World Services Conference in Atlanta, including the Services Conference in Costa Rica.

The Trade Unit team at the OAS, led by José M. Salazar, deserve our recognition for the work they carry out in support of economic integration in the Americas. To Sherry Stephenson my special thanks today for putting together this volume in a very efficient and timely schedule.

Finally a word of thanks to all the authors in this volume. Their high quality contributions ensure that this book will be a useful resource for the countries as they move towards the goal of higher competitiveness and liberalization in the services sectors of their economies.

Thank you