- What is the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Treaty?
- What is the time-table for the FTAA Treaty? When will it take effect?
- What countries are participating in the FTAA treaty process?
- What are the major concerns about the FTAA intellectual property chapter?
- Who are the FTAA treaty negotiators?
- How can members of the public participate in the FTAA treaty process?
- What is the US President’s ?Fast Track Authority? and what does it mean for the FTAA?
- What is the ?No on FTAA IP Chapter? online petition about?
- Where can I read the current draft FTAA Treaty and its intellectual property rights chapter?
What is the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Treaty?
The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Treaty is a proposed trade agreement between the 34 democracies in the Western Hemisphere . The FTAA will create the world’s largest regional trading pact and require all signatory countries to amend their national laws in order to conform with the treaty. The agreement will ?standardize? laws throughout the Americas on a broad range of topics including intellectual property rights. The official website for the FTAA Treaty process is http://www.ftaa-alca.org/
The FTAA process began in 1994 at the First Summit of the Americas in Miami . Negotiations over the FTAA treaty have been ongoing ever since and the first draft of the treaty was released in July 2001 for public consideration and comment. The second and current draft of the treaty was released in November 2002 with another invitation to civil society to comment on it.
Treaty negotiations are supposed to conclude by January 2005. The final FTAA Treaty is set to go in effect by December 2005. Continued disagreements between the US and other nations over the substance of the treaty on numerous issues are likely to push these deadlines back. A more detailed time-table is available here.
All of the 34 democratic countries in the Western Hemisphere participate in the FTAA Treaty process. This includes all of North America (US and Canada), all of South and Central America, and all the Caribbean nations (except Cuba). The FTAA Treaty covers a population of 800 million consumers throughout the Americas . A full list of participating nations can be found here.
In a nutshell, the FTAA’s IP chapter expands intellectual property holders’ rights at the expense of consumers’ rights. It dramatically expands criminal procedures and penalties against intellectual property infringement, including a proposed clause that would send P2P file-sharers to prison. It ignores traditional due process rights and procedural safeguards in matters involving intellectual property infringement. Another major concern with the overall FTAA process is the loss of national sovereignty as countries’ domestic laws are dictated to them by foreign treaty negotiators.
IP Justice has published a White Paper entitled, “FTAA: A Threat to Freedom and Free Trade” that analyzes key sections of the FTAA Treaty’s intellectual property rights chapter. IP Justice has also published the “Top 10 Reasons to Delete the FTAA’s IP Chapter.”
Trade representatives from the governments of the nations involved in the FTAA process negotiate over the substance and text of the FTAA Treaty. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) , an executive office of the US President, negotiates on behalf of the US in the FTAA Treaty process. The FTAA website lists the contact points for negotiators in each country here.
FTAA Ministers established a Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society. At the Committee’s first meeting in 1998, it established an open invitation soliciting input from civil society on the FTAA Treaty. The invitation to participate was subsequently renewed and remains permanently open throughout the negotiation process.
Comments that are submitted before the 2004 ministerial meeting in Brazil will be considered by FTAA trade ministers. More information on submitting comments in the official FTAA Treaty process is available here.
In July 2003, the US Congress passed the Trade Promotion Authority Act by a vote of 215 to 212, providing for presidential ?Fast Track Authority.? On August 6, 2003 US President George W. Bush signed it into law, granting himself total authority to negotiate international trade law and restricting the US Congress’ input to only a yes or no vote on the future of US trade policy.
Article 2, Section 2 of the US Constitution requires a 2/3 vote by members of the US Senate to approve international treaties. ?Fast Track Authority?, does an ?end run’ around this safeguard that the president seek the ?advice and consent of the Senate? before obligating the US to any international treaties. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to safeguard the international treaty process and given total control to the US President to set trade policy.
The “No on FTAA’s IP Chapter” Online Petition is addressed to the FTAA trade ministers and open to any citizen in the Western Hemisphere to sign in support of.
The petition requests the deletion of the intellectual property rights chapter in the final FTAA Treaty out of concern for its negative impact on civil liberties, competition, and innovation. The petition will send a strong message to FTAA negotiators that an agreement to standardize intellectual property laws has no legitimate place in a ?free trade agreement? and should be rejected in its entirety.
See the collection of Official Documents provided by IP Justice.
The second and current draft of the FTAA Treaty is available in English from the official website at:
Draft IP Chapter http://www.ftaa-alca.org/ftaadraft02/eng/ngipe_1.asp#IPR