The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

FTAA Overview
FTAA Environment
FTAA & Democracy
FTAA & Labor
FTAA & Women
Other Related Material
Organizations Working on the FTAA
FTAA Draft Text
Go to our Stop the FTAA pages
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The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is a trade agreement currently under negotiation that would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include 31 additional nations in the Western Hemisphere. This massive expansion is currently being negotiated without meaningful public or Congressional input. The FTAA would not only extend the failed policies of the NAFTA which have eroded living standards, undermined workers rights, devastated family farms, and empowered corporations to challenge domestic public interest laws, but could also include new provisions to severely restrict the ability of federal, state, and local governments throughout the hemisphere to regulate both public and private services, or to provide essential public services.

The effort to bind the economies of the Western Hemisphere into a single free trade agreement began at the Summit of the Americas, in December of 1994 in Miami, Florida. It was at the Summit that heads of state and governments of 34 countries in the region- all nations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean except Cuba- agreed to complete negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. Unfortunately, the public and most Members of Congress are only vaguely aware this agreement is being negotiated, and their input has not been taken into account. Corporate interests, however, are actively involved; under the trade advisory committee system, over 500 corporate representatives have security clearance and access to FTAA documents while only a handful of civil society representatives have been given clearance.

The FTAA would accelerate the global “race to the bottom” initiated under NAFTA: with the FTAA, exploited workers in Mexico would be forced to ‘compete’ with even more desperate workers in Haiti, Bolivia or Guatemala, as multinational corporations move in and out of the region with ease. This “race to the bottom” would also be mirrored for small farmers throughout the hemisphere as the devastating effects of NAFTA on commodity prices and concentration are amplified.

In addition to including the extremely problematic investor-to-state provisions from NAFTA’s Chapter 11, the FTAA includes provisions on services and procurement which go far beyond those in NAFTA in terms of limiting the regulatory authority of Federal, state, and local governments, and boosting the power of corporations to challenge public interest regulations.

The FTAA functions through nine negotiating committees: agriculture, intellectual property rights, investment, government procurement, market access, services, subsidies and anti-dumping and countervailing duties, competition policy, and dispute settlement. These committees meet monthly, or more frequently to push forward negotiations and establish commitments. Currently in the “offers” phase of negotiations in several committees, FTAA negotiators are responding to ‘requests’ by other countries, and establishing which sectors and regulations will be placed on the table or excluded from coverage by FTAA rules. . The next FTAA Trade Ministerial will take place in Miami, Florida November 20 and 21, 2003. Click here for more information about the Miami Mobilization. Negotiators hope to have a final text ready for signing by December, 2004, with a final deadline for implementation of the agreement December 31, 2005. Under Fast Track negotiating authority, if the FTAA reaches completion, Congress will only be allowed an up or down vote on the entire package, with limited debate, and no amendments allowed.

The FTAA has sparked widespread opposition throughout the Americas. Massive demonstrations have been held in Canada, Ecuador, and most recently, nearly 10 million Brazilians voted in a plebecite to withdraw from negotiations. To combat this, U.S. negotiators have begun a “divide and conquer” strategy in which they lock in bilateral agreements with potential FTAA countries in order to facilitate the passage of the FTAA and set a “high” bar in terms of the rights granted to corporations in the agreement. The Central American Free trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement are two such examples of this strategy.

Fact Sheet: What is the FTAA? Citizens Trade Campaign
Everything you need to know to stop NAFTA expansion Public Citizen
Unveiling “NAFTA for the Americas” Public Citizen
Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the FTAAM Global Exchange
What’s Wrong with the FTAA? Witness for Peace
Five Environmental Reasons to Oppose the FTAA Sierra Club
FTAA Fact Sheet Communications Workers of America
After the FTAA: Lessons from Europe for the Americas Institute for Policy Studies, June 2005
Trade Blocs, Neoliberalism, and the Quality of LIfe in Latin America UCLA International Institute, June 16, 2004
Puebla is the new Cancún: popular pressure triumphs The Hemispheric Social Alliance, February 2004
A Citizen’s Critique of the November draft of the FTAA Hemispheric Social Alliance, January 2003
Original FTAA Vision Scrapped As People Pour Into Miami For Anti-Free Trade Protest The International Forum on Globalization

FTAA and Democracy
The New Threat to Public and Private Services and Local Control Citizens Trade Campaign
Divide and Conquer: The FTAA, U.S. Trade Strategy and Public Services in the Americas Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, January 13, 2005
Rules for Trade in Services: GATS and FTAA Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment
The FTAA and the Social Safety Net: Analysis of Privatization Boston Global Network
Free Trade and Water Privatization: The Wet Side of the FTAA Interhemispheric Resource Center, December 2, 2004
Democracy or Dominance in the Americas? The FTAA vs. Public Services Public Services International
Effects on Universal Access to Health Care and Water Services The Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, January 31, 2003
Comments to the Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society in the FTAA Citizens Trade Campaign, May 1, 2003

Articles & Statements
Big Crowd, Derailed FTAA, And Lost Democracy In Miami Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign, December 5, 2003
Militarized Miami: Is this the ‘new model’ for making global trade deals while squashing democratic dissent? Polaris Institute, December 2003
The Trade Talks and the Street: Report-Back from Miami Resource Center for the Americas, November 26, 2003
Criminalizing Dissent: What Miami Means Resource Center for the Americas, November 26, 2003
Protesters Successfully Voice Message of Opposition to FTAA Despite Police Intimidation Citizens Trade Campaign, November 21, 2003
Letter to Congress Regarding 2002 Ministerial on the FTAA in Quito Ecuador Citizens Trade Campaign, October 25, 2002

FTAA and Labor
FTAA and Job Loss in Manufacturing Communications Workers of America
FTAA Manufacturing Facts Communications Workers of America
Labor Critique of the FTAA: On the Fast Track to FTAA AFL-CIO
Testimony on the FTAA AFL-CIO, September 9, 2002
Why School Employees Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Manufacturing Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Construction Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Government Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Health Care Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Immigrant Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO
Why Retirees Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO

FTAA and Women
Analysis of the FTAA from a Gender Perspective January 2003
FTAA and Working Women AFL-CIO
Why Women Workers Should Care about the FTAA AFL-CIO

FTAA and the Environment
Fact Sheets & Reports
The Tyranny of Free Trade: Wasted Natural Wealth & Lost Livlihoods Friends of the Earth, December 9, 2005
Five Environmental Reasons to Oppose the FTAA Sierra Club
Make Trade Clean, Green and Fair, FTAA Program Sierra Club
Trading Away Our Environment Friends of the Earth
The Environmental Impact of the FTAA’s Agreement on Services Friends of the Earth
Save Our Services: Protecting the Environment Friends of the Earth & Public Citizen
Free Trade and Water Privatization: The Wet Side of the FTAA Interhemispheric Resource Center, December 2, 2004
Impact of FTAA on Forests American Lands Alliance
FTAA Agriculture Proposals Would Hurt Farmers Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Other Related Material
Linking the Free Trade Area of the Americas and Immigration American Friends Service Committee
FTAA a Gamble Stacked Against Migrant Communities The Polaris Institute, January 2001
Secret Deal Breaks Trail for FTAA? Canadian Council for International Cooperation, February 19, 2004
The FTAA, Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment, and Human Rights Human Rights Watch, October 29, 2002

Organizations Working on the FTAA
Public Citizen
Stop the FTAA!
United for a Fair Economy
Global Exchange
American Federation of Labor — Congress of Industrial Organizations
Independent Media Center
Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America
John F. Henning Center for International Labor Relations
Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Witness for Peace

Stop the FTAA

En Espanol
Police Repression and Civil Liberties News and Updates
Protest Photos
Legal Info
Mobilization Materials
Call to Action
(202) 778-3320


Globe On November 17-22nd, thousands of trade unionists, environmentalists, retirees, students, fair trade advocates, members of low-income communities, and others gathered in Miami to protest the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA would extend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) throughout the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, except for Cuba. NAFTA has been a failure for all three of its member countries, costing thousands of American and Canadian jobs, worsening poverty in Mexico, and threatening the environment as corporations were given new powers to sue governments over environmental protections. Concerned citizens are opposed to the FTAA because of the even greater threats it poses.

People gathered in Miami to take part in teach-ins on the harmful effects of trade agreements like the FTAA, and positive alternatives that promote fair trade, a “People’s Gala” concert and rally, and a large permitted march and rally through downtown Miami, among other events. Members of Citizens Trade Campaign, the AFL-CIO, and other groups symbolically presented hundreds of thousands of ballots opposing the FTAA that were signed by concerned citizens throughout the U.S.

Stop the FTAA The city of Miami, acting in partnership with over 40 other police jurisdictions, responded with an overwhelming police presence, posting over 2,500 officers on the streets, many in full riot gear. The police, equipped with an entire arsenal of paramilitary hardware that included tank-like armored personnel carriers and helicopters, attacked peaceful protesters with teargas, pepper spray, plastic and beanbag projectiles, and other weapons. Video footage reported on by a number of media outlets shows that riot police opened fire on nearby demonstrators without provocation, firing pepper pellets and rubber bullets at crowds outside a post-march rally at Bayfront Amphitheater. Police ended up arresting over 200 people including union retirees, Steelworkers, and others including many who were simply trying to move away from the police violence.

In the end, the trade ministers gathered for the FTAA Ministerial cut the meetings short. After only a single day of negotiations, they announced a draft declaration that revealed how little progress they had actually made towards completing the FTAA. This is because Brazil, the country with the largest economy in Latin America, refused to negotiate on some of the key demands that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office put forward at the behest of U.S. corporations – provisions that would threaten Brazil’s workers, environment, and public safety. Citizens of Latin America and the U.S. are united in supporting democracy and healthy communities and in opposing this harmful corporate trade agenda.

Click here to read articles and updates on police repression and civil liberties violations in Miami.

Click here to see photos of the FTAA protests and the police response.