This Week in the Americas

Timely Demise for Free Trade Area of the Americas
By Laura Carlsen

The stage was set for a showdown. When the Bush cabinet announced intentions to revive the moribund Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, the countries of the Southern Common Market closed ranks to prevent it. What followed was a diplomatic melee that reflects not so much divisions within Latin America, as a growing resistance to the current free trade model throughout the developing world.

The U.S. government was determined to come out of the meeting with a revitalized FTAA because the administration feared that if the negotiations were left to languish, momentum could be lost for the initiative at a crucial time. The FTAA was first launched by George W. Bush’s father, but after ten years of inconclusive talks and significant differences between the countries, the goal of a hemisphere-wide NAFTA remained elusive.

Laura Carlsen directs the Americas Program of the International Relations Center, online at