The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to every country in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, except Cuba. Negotiations began right after the completion of NAFTA in 1994 and are to be completed by 2005.
NAFTA's initial objectives as stated in Chapter one of the agreement were to;.
a) eliminate barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross-border movement of, goods and services between the territories of the Parties; .
b) promote conditions of fair competition in the free trade area; .
c) increase substantially investment opportunities in the territories of the Parties; .
d) provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in each Party's territory; .
e) create effective procedures for the implementation and application of this Agreement, for its joint administration and for the resolution of disputes .
f) establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits of this Agreement.
NAFTA's objectives have now translated into the objectives of the FTAA. The FTAA how ever is not just an expansion of the NAFTA. FTAA negotiators appear to have chosen to follow the WTO's stipulations rather than NAFTA in key areas of standard-setting and dispute settlement, where the WTO rules are tougher. The Free Trade Area of the Americas has recently become far closer to its completion through the summit of the Americas conferences, most recent being the third, which took place in Miami. The 34 democratic nation representatives will meet again in Mexico in 2004.
The FTAA has received heavy criticism, primarily from Anti-Globalization activists who believe that not only should the FTAA be stopped but also the NAFTA repealed. Protestors argue that 765,000 US jobs were lost, average Mexican wages decreased by twenty three percent and the coast of Mexico has suffered due to the growth of industry in the country all as a result of the NAFTA.