Public Interest Groups Demand Real Free Trade in the Americas

Punta del Este, Uruguay, April 5, 2001— In a declaration signed today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined representatives from twenty non-profit public interest groups from North and South America, and Europe, in calling for Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiators to commit to more open trade, lower subsidies and better protection of property rights. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


This week, trade ministers from the 34 countries in North and South America will meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for further negotiations of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The Punta del Este Declaration outlines a statement of principles for the negotiation of trade agreements and demands an elimination of trade distorting rules and the lowering of tariffs.


“Free trade advances the public interest by providing people with more and better choices in both the workplace and the marketplace,” said Gregory Conko, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a signatory to the Declaration. “And contrary to the arguments of protesters, economic development resulting from open trade provides improved opportunities for workers and better incentives for environmental conservation.”


According to the Declaration, trade agreements must reject all barriers to trade except those relating to the protection of property rights and contracts. The Declaration also calls for an elimination of subsidies to industry, because subsidies promote a misuse of both environmental and developmental resources.


Signatories to the Declaration oppose the incorporation of environmental and labor standards as a condition of trade agreements. “While we should take environmental and labor goals seriously, those debates should take place outside the trade framework,” said Kendra Okonski, also a CEI analyst. “The economic development that trade brings about will actually help countries improve their environmental stewardship and labor conditions.”


To arrange interviews with Gregory Conko or Kendra Okonski, please call Richard Morrison with the media relations department at 202-331-1010. Gregory Conko can also be reached directly in Uruguay at 5411-5328-9063.



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