Social pressure throughout the continent succeeded in
preventing some governments from making the kinds of
concessions that their people reject. The Puebla TNC ends
with a reaffirmation that the contradictions that derailed
the WTO in Cancún are the same as those that are derailing
the FTAA.

These differences prevented agreement on the most basic level
of commitments for all countries. Negotiators tried
everything – private meetings, procedural changes,
withdrawing points that met strong opposition – but nothing
worked. The meeting ends with only vague agreements on the
least important issues, with the important exception of
investment, where there is consensus only on including
transparency rules. As a result, the TNC has not been able to
give instructions to the negotiating groups and the risk of
missing deadlines that this implies has grown.

The points of disagreement are substantial. The U.S. wants
concessions without making significant offers in return.
Fundamental conflicts remain in the areas of agriculture,
market access, services, intellectual property, competition
policy, antidumping, dispute settlement, and institutional
issues. Moreover, there is no consensus on special and
differential treatment, with developing countries insisting
that the principle be concretely incorporated into each
negotiating group while the U.S. maintains that special and
differential treatment be implemented in a much less concrete
manner, through assistance and capacity building programs.
In particular, the developed countries refuse to include any
explicit mention of Compensation Funds.

The U.S. and Canada insist on maintaining their agricultural
subsidies and internal support policies, and on including a
“special safeguard” mechanism in the agreement. The
safeguard could also be used by Northern countries to keep
out agricultural imports that can compete on equal footing
with their local production (sugar and orange juice are the
best known examples, though there are many more). This
insistence on the part of the U.S. and Canada was confronted
by the bloc of countries that are most competitive in this
area, who refuse to sign an agreement designed only to
guarantee the profits of large transnational companies.

In the area of market access, the position of the U.S. and
its allies continues to be that in the basic level of the
FTAA tariff elimination will only apply to “substantially”
all products. And Mercosur maintains its position that
tariffs must be eliminated for the entire universe of goods.
Moreover, disagreement remains on the principle of Most
Favored Nation (MFN) treatment. Mercosur maintains that each
country should be entitled to MFN treatment whether or not
the country participates in the additional plurilateral
negotiations, while the Group of 14 insists on the ability to
deny MFN treatment to countries that only participate in the
first tier of negotiations.

These conflicts go to the heart of the agreement. It has
been, and will continue to be, extremely difficult to find a
compromise among these firm, contradictory positions. As
long as there is no agreement on these issues, any advance in
the FTAA negotiations will be impossible.

The Hemispheric Social Alliance will continue the fight
against the FTAA, will intensify its mobilizations, and will
shadow the negotiators, make public all that they try to keep
secret. We will not rest until our hemisphere is free of the
FTAA.

Another Americas is Possible

Alianza Social Continental – Hemispheric Social Alliance