Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) SecretariatMexicoPress Releases

Stalled Talks: FTAA Deadline in Doubt

CHRIST CHURCH, BARBADOS – The Seventeenth Meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) was not reconvened as previously scheduled, on March 18 to 19. A decision has been taken to postpone the TNC. The decision came at the close of an Informal Meeting of FTAA Vice-Ministers (from selected countries), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 9 to 10. The announcement was revealed in a March 10 joint communiqué, issued by the TNC Co-Chairs. The TNC will resume in Puebla, Mexico, April 22 to 23. Reportedly, the additional time would allow some delegations to continue informal consultations. In the interim, another informal meeting of Vice Ministers will take place in Buenos Aires, March 31 to April 1, in order to continue efforts to break the impasse ahead of the TNC. The Informal Meeting, held earlier this month, which sought to resolve some of the fundamental differences among countries, was unable to garner consensus on what would constitute the common set of rights and obligations, and procedures for plurilateral negotiations. “The delay in reconvening the TNC makes the task of meeting the January 2005 deadline for the conclusion of negotiations difficult”, said the Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal. The Seventeenth Meeting of the FTAA TNC held in Puebla, Mexico, February 2 to 6, ended inconclusively; unable to reach consensus on a framework for the proposed hemisphere-wide trade pact. A decision had been taken at that meeting to reconvene in March, to conclude discussions on the common set of rights and obligations, and procedures for plurilateral negotiations. Despite the outcome of the Informal Meeting, some delegations have made conciliatory remarks. According to diplomatic sources, those officials have characterized deliberations, during the two-day meeting, as constructive. They cited positive signs of convergence, amongst some countries, with regard to traditionally disparate positions on certain key issues. This view is not shared by other officials who remain critical of the inability of the meeting to secure consensus.

The joint communiqué of the TNC Co-Chairs is available on the RNM website ( For More Information Contact: Nand C. Bardouille Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery 3rd Floor, The Mutual Building, Hastings Main Road, Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados Tel: (246) 430-1678 FAX: (246) 228-9528 email:

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