Media Center



December 4, 1995 - Miami

"In effect, the Denver meeting initiated an important Preparatory process, a necessary prelude before the beginning of any negotiations. And, those of us who are firmly committed to the FTAA should draw strength from the fact that this new process is moving at a steady, deliberate pace. ."

One year ago, I addressed this important conference immediately following the Summit of the Americas. As you give me this opportunity to look back, I think it is useful to reflect on the historic event that took place one year ago in this city, a city whose very name now evokes the new spirit of cooperation that has overtaken our Hemisphere. The Miami Summit, as it is now most often and appropriately referred to, produced decisions that not only articulated a vision for the Hemisphere, but also propelled us all forward into actual collaborative work unthinkable just one year ago. When I addressed this conference last year, I spoke of the need to launch a process that would facilitate the many dialogues that would have to take place between then and 2005. We talked about the need to develop a "level playing information field" so that every country, big and small, would have access to the same facts in order to enable the process of convergence we are all experiencing.

At the same time, we talked about the need to work with smaller countries in assisting them in developing models and negotiating positions which would overcome the natural obstacles that are borne from the wide asymmetries that exist between the larger economies in the Hemisphere and the smaller island nations of the Caribbean.

We also spoke of the options that lay before the hemisphere on the road to a Free Trade Area of the Americas. But as I look back at the year we are about to close, I find that much that was hoped for -- even though it still seemed out of reach at the time -- has been accomplished. Let us consider what has already taken place in the 12 months since the Summit. The first thing that has changed since the Summit of the Americas, is that there are only nine years left to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas and meet the 2005 deadline.

Fortunately, six months after the summit, the Miami Process was found to be alive and well in a very different setting -- Denver Colorado. It was in Denver that the Hemisphere's trade ministers met to respond to the trade mandate promulgated at the Miami Summit. Their job was to take that general commitment and identify, more specifically, what we needed to do to move toward free trade in the Americas. What they agreed to was a plan that should be looked upon as a prelude to the actual negotiations for the FTAA.

Most importantly -- especially at the beginning of any tentative process -- they set the date and location of the next Ministerial Meeting. That rendez vous is scheduled for March 21, 1996 in Cartagena, Colombia.

For the purpose of managing the work leading up to the Cartagena Meeting, The ministers decided that the best approach was to rely on a system of working groups to consider issues central to the construction of an FTAA. In Denver, they launched seven such groups to cover, respectively, Market access.....investment....standards and technical barriers to trade...customs procedures and rules of origin...small economies...anti-dumping and countervailing duties...and sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

At least four more working groups responsible for intellectual property rights.....competition government procurement....will be established at the meeting in Cartagena. Each of the working groups have held their first meeting this fall. They are now involved in a second round of meetings. In addition , the Hemisphere's Trade Vice-Ministers will be meeting next week in Cartagena to review the progress of the working groups and to plan for the Cartagena Ministerial.

In effect, the Denver meeting initiated an important Preparatory process. And while this is not the negotiations themselves, this Preparatory process is a necessary prelude before the beginning of any negotiations can be contemplated. Nonetheless, those of us who have a firm commitment to the FTAA should take confidence from the fact that this PREPARATORY PROCESS is moving at a steady, deliberate pace.

1995 has also witnessed the launch of another process that will be crucial to the ultimate outcome. I am speaking of what has been going on, in parallel, within the private sector. The people who have a direct stake success of the FTAA: people, like yourselves in the business community, have also been organizing along side all of this official, government-lead activity. This is significant because an FTAA must make sense to the same people who take liberalized trade policies and use them as tools to create jobs and stable economies.

Since Miami, the private sector has taken the initiative and organized itself to play a supporting role in the FTAA process. In Denver, approximately 3,000 businessmen participated in the special Trade and Commerce Forum that was held after the ministerial. And, when 3,000 business people give up their weekends to participate in this kind of event, policy makers cannot underestimate the explicit desire of the business community to be involved. And, if that message was not clear in Denver, it should certainly be obvious to all of us today. This conference is yet another example of the energy the private sector is devoting to the issues that are central to the FTAA discussion -- regulatory standards, agriculture, transportation, tourism, financial services, to name but a few.

I should also point out that this conference is placing special attention on telecommunications and information technologies. I can think of no better area that demonstrates how the private sector is leading the way in the economic integration of the Hemisphere. Just consider the explosion of telecommunications competition we are witnessing in Latin America. Telecommunications and information technologies offer a microcosm of how liberalized trade leads to new levels of competition.....and the public reaps the benefits. The way things are going, pretty soon I think that soon it will be cheaper to send a fax from Santiago to Ottawa than it will be to place a call from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale.

But, my main point is that the will of governments to propel the FTAA process forward is not operating in a vacuum. Governments, this time, will have to keep up with the growing and abiding interest of the business community from all over the Hemisphere. Nowhere will this be more obvious, you will be interested in knowing, than in Cartagena in March, 1996. There, the private sector will be holding a sort of ministerial of its own. It's called the Americas Business Forum. Building on the experience of the Denver trade and Commerce Forum, the Cartagena organizers are preparing a private sector meeting that will parallel the discussions of the trade ministers. That way, we are all focused on the same issues at the same time.

The Denver forum, this meeting here in Miami and the Americas business Forum planned for Cartagena, are the essential building blocks of an indispensable consultation process through which the private sector in the Americas can focus immediately, and comprehensively, on almost any issue that arises in the FTAA process. And if we are serious about meeting the 2005 deadline, we will need this kind of venue to guarantee a productive dialogue between the public and private sectors.

Just as the business community will help the political leaders stay the course for the FTAA, the Organization of American States is also playing an important function in the Miami Process. As you know, the OAS has been moving quickly to implement the decision of the Summit of the Americas that the OAS should play...quote...:"a particularly important role with respect to free trade in the Americas" end quote. Here is how the OAS is carrying out that mandate.

First of all, the OAS is part of the Tripartite Committee established at the Summit of the Americas to function as a secretariat for the FTAA PROCESS. In addition to the OAS, the other members of this committee are the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In general, the Tripartite Committee is providing the FTAA working groups with the hard data and studies on trade in the region that must be in hand before there can be serious negotiations. Specifically, the OAS is providing technical support to five of the seven working groups working on small economies investment, subsidies, anti-dumping and countervailing duties,, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and the working group on standards and technical barriers to trade. At this point, we are assisting the working groups to develop the kind of information that allows them to take an in-depth look at the current state of trade in the Americas. For example -

For the Working Group on Smaller Economies, we've put together a document that will give members of the group a good sense of how international, regional and subregional agreements offer....or do not offer....special treatment to small and lesser developed economies.

The Working Group on Investment has asked the OAS to prepare a detailed compendium of all of the region's bilateral treaties on Investment.

We are putting together for the Working Group on Subsidies, Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties a document that list agricultural export subsidies. This will be done on a country-by-country basis. We will also include export practices that have a similar effect.
The growing role of the OAS, including the examples of support activities I just mentioned, is being carried out by the OAS Trade Unit, an entity I created last April. It is responsible for making sure that the OAS has the capability to respond quickly and efficiently to the demands of hemispheric integration. Maintaining a strong momentum in the FTAA process demands a strong infrastructure of technical expertise. I am please to say that the OAS is demonstrating to the Working Groups that it can be an impartial and indispensable adjunct to trade liberalization efforts in the Americas.

So, overall, 1995, the first year of the Miami process, has been productive. I think we can return here to the city of the Summit and conclude, with some confidence, that the accomplishments of one year ago were real. But what of the future of trade relations in the Hemisphere, and what of the Americas in general.

First, achieving the goals of the Miami Summit will continue to require an unprecedented level of trust and cooperation among countries in the region, and trust and cooperation have not always been in abundant supply in the Americas. In this way, the FTAA negotiations should naturally foster a constructive political dialogue in our region. However, we know that the commitment to free trade in the Hemisphere has already resulted in positive change for all.

What, then, must we do in order to assure continued progress. Allow me to point out a few fundamental challenges:

One thing is certain. We must assure that trade and investment regimes are open, transparent processes, at the regional, subregional and national levels. To a great extent, the FTAA working groups are addressing this issue as they compile detailed information on existing trading arrangements. This is also where the OAS is playing a supporting role.

For example, at the Denver Ministerial the OAS provided trade officials with a compendium that offers a detailed comparison of the mosaic of agreements and arrangements that govern trade in our Hemisphere. It is being expanded and a new version of this document will be ready by February.

The OAS also is preparing a compendiums on the region's bi-lateral investment treaties and another on anti-dumping laws and regulations. Thus, much is being done to encourage transparency; much remains to be done, as well.

Another challenge facing the push for free-trade in the Americas is what the FTAA process means for our Hemisphere's smaller and lesser developed economies. They are contemplating an unprecedented degree of economic integration with their much larger neighbors. As I mentioned before, the OAS is preparing a thorough study on this topic.

Finally, perhaps the biggest challenge we face: choosing a particular path that will provide the most direct route to the FTAA. Simply deciding to embark on the journey, that was a significant achievement. But what is the best way to arrive at our intended destination?

Some say the countries and the different integration agreements of Latin America are confronted with three basic choices. First, they can follow the path of convergence on a wider regional scheme, probably under the leadership of MERCOSUR; second, they can apply for accession to NAFTA; and third, all the countries and agreements can collectively build a Hemispheric-wide free trade zone.

The most desirable outcome is the third option because of its ability to offer a bigger market; promote a more transparent environment; and reduce diversion of investment and trade flows.

However, it is possible that the different agreements and countries will initially migrate towards either NAFTA or MERCOSUR, thus creating two clusters, one in North America and the other in the Southern Cone. In effect, the two clusters would exist during a transitional period leading up to a Hemispheric-wide free-trade agreement.

Furthermore, the results of the Trade Ministerial meeting in Denver, at the beginning of this Summer, strongly suggest that such a "clustering" of bilateral and sub-regional agreements would in fact be shaped by a genuine desire in the Americas. It is also worth noting that ongoing informal discussions between Brazil and the U.S. and between NAFTA and MERCOSUR tend to reinforce this conclusion.

Therefore, the objective for the next decade will be to guarantee the continuity of the liberalization process in Latin America and do it in such a way that it does not become either discriminatory or incompatible with the efforts to expand global trade.

Of course, none of the challenges I just outlined, and none of the many other challenges we will face along the way, should be viewed as threatening the process. The important thing is to anticipate the difficult areas and maintain the commitment -- maintain the spirit of Miami, if you will-- to find a solution.

In fact, now that I am here in Miami, attending a meeting of like minds, all of us engaged in a sort of unofficial anniversary observance of the Summit of the Americas, I can only feel optimistic. The conscientious work we have seen from so many sectors over the past 12 months leads me to believe that the Summit of the Americas, that the Miami Process it spawned, hold the promise to make Bolivar's dream of integration a reality.

I've said it before. And I think it bears repeating, here in this city that many view as the cross-roads of our Hemisphere: the hour of the americas has arrived.