Peterson Institute publications
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy. More › ›
RSS News Feed Search

News Release

Architect of Free Trade Area of Americas Proposes Negotiation by 2000

April 30, 1997

Contact:    Richard E. Feinberg    (619) 534-0357

Washington, DC—Former special assistant to President Clinton for inter-American affairs Richard Feinberg, a principal architect of the Miami Summit of the Americas in 1994, proposes in a new Institute book that the follow-up summit in Chile in early 1998 should accelerate by five years to 2000 the timetable for agreeing on a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). This will require early agreement between President Clinton and the Congress on new fast-track trade negotiating authority to enable the United States to pursue such an initiative with its Latin American partners.

Feinberg rejects the widespread view that hemispheric trade liberalization has stalled. He argues that, since Miami, the building blocs for the creation of the FTAA have been put in place—including periodic ministerials, 11 working groups, a competent Trade Unit in the Organization of American States, a private sector forum, and dynamic subregional trading arrangements including NAFTA and Mercosur. "What is needed now are political decisions in Washington and Brasilia. Leaders in both countries must build the political coalitions necessary to sustain progress toward hemispheric free trade," Feinberg explains.

In addition to accelerating the schedule for achieving the FTAA, Feinberg proposes that the Chilean summit in early 1998 should announce that only democracies will be welcome to participate in hemispheric trade integration. The hemisphere should seek to deter any future authoritarian adventures by threatening their expulsion from the regional trade arrangement.

In addition to trade, Feinberg's new book assesses the rest of the 12 major initiatives approved at the Miami summit in 1994 (see table). He concludes that good progress has been achieved on four initiatives, modest progress on seven more, and little progress on one. The four initiatives that earn good grades are those on civil society, corruption, energy, and pollution prevention. The seven that receive modest grades include democracy, human rights, narcotics and money laundering, education, women's rights, capital markets and trade. Biodiversity receives the failing grade. Feinberg concludes that "Two years after Miami, that is not a bad report card."

In reviewing the followup to the Miami summit, the former NSC staffer argues that summitry in the Americas is a valuable mechanism to promote convergence on fundamental principles, to gain multilateral support for US policies, to stabilize Latin American democracy, and to advance free trade. In the post Cold War world, summitry is possibly the only mechanism to maintain high-level US interest in the hemisphere. Feinberg advocates creating a secretariat for hemispheric summitry, following the example of APEC's modest bureau in Singapore, and proposes that the Santiago meeting declare that periodic summits will be a permanent feature of the inter-American system.

Despite progress in implementing the Miami summit accords, Feinberg's study identifies flaws requiring mid-course correction. Santiago can improve upon Miami by tackling fewer initiatives. Each initiative should embody measurable goals and phased timetables. Sufficient human and financial resources will be needed to catalyze other official and private flows. Mandates to international organizations should be clear. Financial targets should be set. Reporting requirements and monitoring mechanisms would also be useful.

Over the next 12 months, President Clinton will be making three trips to Latin America and the Caribbean. Feinberg recommends that the first two trips should focus on building a hemispheric consensus for the capstone third trip, the Santiago summit. "There should be no doubt in the minds of US leaders that the Miami summit served US interests," the study concludes. "It provided the vehicle—absent before—through which the United States gained explicit hemispheric support for many of its major objectives in Latin America. Future hemispheric summits can build on this promising foundation."

Table 10.1: Implementation of the Plan of Action

Initiative Progress Architecture International
organization
involvement
Public-private
partnership





Democracy/human rights ** ** *** *
Civil society **** *** **** ****
Corruption *** ** ***** **
Narcotics and money laundering ** ** ***
Education ** ** ** **
Women's rights ** ** *
Energy *** **** *** ****
Pollution prevention *** ** *** ***
Biodiversity
Capital market liberalization ** *** *** **
Trade ** **** *** ***

Ratings: ***** = strong, ****= very good, *** = good, ** = modest, * = minor, – = very little movement
Progress: Rating of progress toward implementation of initiative's action items in summit's plan of action.
Architecture: Efficacy and depth of implementation mechanisms composed of one or more elements in the tripodal architecture together with the initiative's responsible coordinator.
IO Involvement: Involvement in terms of leadership, ideas, and resources, of the IDB, OAS, PAHO, and ECLAC.
Public-private partnership: Engagement and access to decision making of NGAs, including NGOs and the private corporate sector.