New study peers behind the fortified walls of Quebec City at the Americas free trade negotiations (FTAA)

March 29, 2001

(Ottawa)--The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a new report today that sheds light on the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In the absence of a public draft FTAA text, "Inside the Fortress: What's going on at the FTAA negotiations" provides a comprehensive road-map to the issues that are on the table at the Quebec City Summit of the Americas.

"This report compiles information on the negotiations from a wide variety of sources so that citizens can know what is happening behind closed doors," says report author Marc Lee. "The secrecy surrounding the FTAA draft text and the heavy fortification of the Quebec Summit contradicts claims by leaders and trade ministers in support of democracy."

The report provides background information on the progress to date for an FTAA and its future prospects. It finds that an FTAA deal is by no means a sure thing, due to a variety of internal conflicts among negotiating countries, plus growing opposition from a diverse array of concerned groups across the hemisphere.

Overall, the report finds that Canada has little to gain from an FTAA. Canada's trade with Latin America is miniscule, representing well under 1% of Canadian exports, compared to 86% with the United States. Yet, the report notes that Canada has much to lose from a completed deal, and that the Canadian government has failed to take positions in areas of public importance.

The report observes that Canada has not submitted official positions on investment, services,intellectual property and dispute settlement. Canada is also strangely silent on areas that are being attacked by the United States, such as the viability of Crown corporations, agricultural marketing boards, and state trading enterprises like the Canadian Wheat Board.

"The federal government has been applauding itself for taking a leadership role in the FTAA," adds Lee. "But they are cynically distancing themselves from the most contentious and controversial issues that the public is concerned about."