News Release

A Week That Will Shake the Hemisphere?


This Friday (April 20), leaders from 34 countries will gather in Quebec to chart the course of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Protests by a range of human rights, environmental, labor and pro-democracy activists are planned. The following analysts are available for interviews:
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Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Wallach said today: “The FTAA negotiators are working behind closed doors to foist the failed NAFTA model onto the entire hemisphere — including the extreme new investor protections and rights that sank the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1999. Recently, in Buenos Aires, 20,000 people from labor organizations, environmentalists, religious groups and civil society marched in the streets to demonstrate the broad-based opposition to FTAA in Latin America. U.S., Mexican and Canadian activists whose countries already have suffered NAFTA’s damage joined the protests. NAFTA’s effects — increased economic inequality, declining real wages, increased exploitation of natural resources and attacks on important public health and safety regulations — must not be expanded from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego. Rather, this failed model must be rolled back in North America.”
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Robert Scott is an economist with the Economic Policy Institute. Carlos Salas is an economist at the Colegio de Mexico and an author of The State of Working Mexico. Bruce Campbell is director of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. They have written a report, “NAFTA at Seven,” assessing the effects of that agreement on the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Among their findings: For the U.S., NAFTA eliminated over 766,000 job opportunities between 1994 and 2000, as the trade deficit between the U.S. and its northern and southern neighbors ballooned; the report gives a state-by-state breakdown of lost jobs… In Mexico, wages and incomes fell between 1991 and 1998, inequality has grown and job quality has deteriorated for most workers… In Canada, overall growth during the 1990s was worse than in any other decade since the 1930s, and productivity growth has not led to growth in wages.
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Director of international programs for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, which is suing the U.S. Trade Representative for keeping the administration’s latest written trade proposals for the FTAA secret, Wagner said today: “The U.S. government has shown these documents to other governments, but not to its own people. The governments don’t want the public to be engaged in the negotiations at this stage; the longer you wait before you allow the public in, the less meaningful public involvement is.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167