What's New?
 - Sitemap - Calendar
Trade Agreements - FTAA Process - Trade Issues 

espaņol - franįais - portuguęs

TPD > FTAA > United States Negotiating Positions - Summary > Position

Summary of the United States Negotiating Positions in the FTAA 



Public Summary of U.S. Position

At the first Summit of the Americas in Miami in December 1994, the thirty four democratically elected Heads of State and Government in the Western Hemisphere agreed to construct a Free Trade Area of the Americas. These leaders also agreed that as "economic integration in the Hemisphere proceeds, we will further secure the observance and promotion of worker rights, as defined by appropriate international conventions."

At subsequent meetings of Trade Ministers and Vice Ministers, the United States proposed several approaches to meet this commitment. For example, we pressed repeatedly for the establishment of a study group to address the relationship between FTAA goals and labor issues. We also proposed that Ministers of Trade review and discuss the work of the hemisphere's Labor Ministers contained in the " Report of the Working Group on Economic Integration and Its Impact on Employment and Labor Migrations of the Tenth Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor."

Many delegations have consistently opposed consideration of labor matters in the FTAA, arguing that this topic was not relevant to negotiations on trade and investment. Opponents of the U.S. proposals assert that the International Labor Organization (ILO) is the appropriate forum to deal with core labor standards. Accordingly, the United States could not obtain the necessary consensus either to form a study group on labor or to include labor as an issue for discussion when the Ministers met in San Jose in March 1998. However, the agreed general objectives of the FTAA as spelled out in the San Jose Declaration include two key goals:

'To promote prosperity though increased economic integration and free trade among countries of the Hemisphere, which are key factors for raising standards of living, improving the working conditions of people in the Americas and better protecting the environment." and

"To further secure, in accordance with our respective laws and regulations, the observance and promotion of worker rights, renewing our commitment to the observance of internationally recognized core labor standards and acknowledging that the International Labor Organization is the competent body to set and deal with these standards." 

The Ministers at San Jose did agree to the establishment of the FTAA Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society. The San Jose Declaration created this Committee and gave it a mandate to receive inputs from civil society throughout the hemisphere to analyze them, and report to the ministers on the range of views from civil society. In the November 1999 Toronto Declaration, Ministers again requested a report on the views submitted by civil society and also reaffirmed their commitment to transparency in the negotiating process and to conducting the negotiations in such a manner as to broaden public understanding and support for the FTAA. The Committee has issued two Open Invitations inviting civil society to submit their views on the FTAA negotiations in writing and has prepared one report. That report states some of the submissions raised the issue of labor standards and advocated their formal inclusion in the FTAA. Similar views were submitted in response to the second Open Invitation. The United States continues to believe that the FTAA must include concrete provisions to implement the Miami commitment to further secure the observance and promotion of worker rights. We have proposed a provision for the Chapter on Investment that countries should not relax their labor laws to encourage investment. We are considering, in consultation with U.S. interested parties whether additional labor-related provisions should be included in any of the individual chapters. We are looking forward to the next step of the negotiating process where the 34 countries will begin to address the overall architecture and institutional provisions of the FTAA agreement as an opportunity to pursue our goal of ensuring that hemispheric integration promotes the implementation and enforcement of core labor standards.

Parallel Process

At the second Summit of the Americas in Santiago in April 1998, two specific labor- related action items were included in the Action Plan. The two labor action items are: a) Modernization of the State in Labor Matters; and b) Basic Rights of Workers.

Following the Santiago Summit, the XI Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor was held in Viņa del Mar Chile, in October 1998. The Labor Ministers adopted a Declaration and Plan of Action that serves as a blueprint for carrying out the labor goals of the hemisphere's leaders, as embodied in the Santiago Summit Action Plan. As a result of that meeting, two Working Groups were formed, one on "Economic Globalization and Its Social and Labor Dimensions" and another on "Modernization of the State and Labor Administration." The labor ministers also created an Advisory Council including international organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Labor Organization (ILO), and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), to help implement the Action Plan.

The 34 summit countries have agreed that the next Summit to be held in April 2001 in Quebec City will address three baskets of issues-Strengthening Democracy, Creating Prosperity, and Realizing Human Potential. The basket on Creating Prosperity includes Trade, Investment and Finance, Environmental Management, Labor and two others. Under Labor an action item on Labor Dimensions of a Globalized Economy has been proposed. The United States believes we should use this opportunity to build on the work that has already been done under the Santiago Summit Plan of Action. For example, in the Summit preparation process, the United States is proposing that the Labor Ministers be instructed to prepare a further analytic report on basic worker rights and the labor dimensions of a globalized economy as well as begin a dialogue on the labor dimensions of hemispheric integration with Trade and other appropriate ministries. 

Source: United States Trade Representative