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Will the FTAA be relaunched in February?

The Miami Herald reports, “The Obama administration is ‘exploring’ a regional trade plan for the Americas that would be the most ambitious hemispheric initiative in years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview that he would like to first seek an agreement to deepen the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, and to expand it afterward to the rest of Latin America.”

“NAFTA will turn 20 years old in 2014, and has lost much of its earlier impetus in recent years. U.S. officials say next year’s anniversary will be a golden opportunity to re-launch it.” The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed on December 17, 1992 and came into force on January 1, 1994.

“The United States, Mexico and Canada would be ‘the major block of it, reaching out to the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, Latin America’, Kerry said. He added that the plan would be to start in North America, because several South American nations are not yet willing to forge closer commercial ties with the United States.”

Kerry is presumably referring to the eight Latin American countries that are members of the alternative trading bloc ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas). Those countries are Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The United States has not proposed a new trade bloc in the Americas since negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas collapsed in 2005, when Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela effectively killed the idea at a summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina…”

“Top aides to Kerry say the plan to relaunch NAFTA could come as early as February, when President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts at a North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico. …According to top Kerry aides, the three NAFTA countries are planning to discuss, among other things, a regional energy agreement. Last week, Mexico’s Congress passed a historic bill that will change the constitution to end 75 years of total government control over its oil reserves, allowing foreign investors to help develop unexplored oil fields.”

The Council of Canadians was very active in its opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, including participating in the popular mobilization against the FTAA in Quebec City in April 2001. 

Further reading
North American Free Trade Agreement
The Free Trade Area of the Americas and the Threat to Social Programs, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice in Canada and the Americas by Maude Barlow
Controversial energy law passes in Mexico
An alternative trading bloc, ALBA