WASHINGTON -- December 21 -- With talks to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) dead for more than a year, the anticipated passing of the Jan 1, 2005, deadline for negotiating a pact marks the end of corporate globalizations decade-long Shermans March across the hemisphere, Public Citizen said today.
The sweeping proposal for the FTAA, dubbed NAFTA on Steroids, would have extended NAFTA to 31 more countries in the hemisphere. It has met increasing resistance since negotiations began in 1994, with talks in crisis since a 2002 FTAA Ministerial in Quito, Ecuador. At an FTAA Ministerial in Miami last year, proponents of a NAFTA expansion were forced to dramatically scale back the scope of the proposed agreement to avoid total implosion of the negotiations. Although the outcome of the Miami summit cast serious doubt on the FTAAs future, the Bush administration clung to the notion that the Jan. 1, 2005, FTAA deadline could be met.
The administration must face the fact that NAFTA was a radical experiment that failed, said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizens Global Trade Watch. Citizens and legislators in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean have seen NAFTAs result in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and have said no to the expansion of these policies, which harm workers, threaten our environment and undermine our democracy.
NAFTAs harsh track record, combined with the rise of massive opposition movements in Latin America and the election of critics of unfettered corporate globalization in many of the 31 countries, point to the reality that this agreement, envisioned to be the crowning glory of a NAFTA-based trade policy, may never see the light of day.
The failure to meet the January deadline is just the latest blow to the Bush administrations attempts to expand the NAFTA model. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was signed in May 2004; however, CAFTA remains in limbo, with a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the agreement.
NAFTA, CAFTA and the FTAA embody a failed model of corporate globalization that has been widely rejected, Wallach said. We should look to alternative trade rules that lift standards of living and environmental and consumer protections throughout the hemisphere. It is time for the administration to admit that NAFTA expansion is a non-starter in this case, if at first you dont succeed, its time to try something different.