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What is the FTAA, anyway?

by Archives October 23, 2002

On Oct. 1, 2 and 3, students at Concordia voted in favour of a day of strike against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Even so, many students here at ConU aren’t quite sure what they’re striking against. In hopes of informing students, here is a brief overview of what the FTAA is and what it means to students.

The Free Trade Area of the Americas is an extension of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed in 1994 by the United States, Canada and Mexico to try to break down barriers, lower tariffs and guarantee access to one another’s markets.

The FTAA’s goals would be similar to that of NAFTA; it would include lowering tariffs to increase trade. The only difference is that trade ministers want to establish free trade in 34 nations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean to make it largest free trade area in the Western Hemisphere.

Negotiations for the FTAA began in 1994 at the Summit of the Americas in Miami, where trade ministers from each country, except Cuba, agreed to start negotiations to establish the free trade area. The FTAA agreement is meant to be finalized and implemented by 2005.

Although the American, Canadian and Mexican economies have experienced some growth under NAFTA, the far-reaching implementation of the FTAA may have some negative consequences. Critics of the agreement say the agreement could lead to increased privatization of social services and programs such as health care and education, as well as postal and environmental services. This, they say, would spark an increase in user fees that would make these programs less accessible to a greater part of the population.

Events at Concordia leading up to the Oct. 31 Day of Student Strike and Action

Oct. 21-25
Photo exhibit: images of resistance from Chiapas and South America.
Hall Mezzanine

Oct. 23
Film: Turbulence and the New World Border
A look at security at the U.S.-Mexican border since NAFTA.
H-110, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25
Film: Life and Debt
The cycle that puts those Gap jeans on you is the same one that destroys agriculture and industry in third world nations.
H-110, 7 p.m.

Oct. 26
Activist Judy Rebick talks about the effects of free trade on women, while Paula Klachko addresses neo-liberal globalization in Argentina.
H-435, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29
Panel discussion on capitalist imperialism, the FTAA and neo-liberal globalization in the Mexican state of Guerero. With Montreal activist Jaggi Singh and Eleuterio Mayo Vargas from Guerero, Mexico.
H-110, 7 p.m.

Oct. 30
Film: Genoa
Enter the streets and meeting halls of the organizers of last year’s anti-G-8 protests in Italy.
H-110, 7 p.m.

Oct. 31
Strike and demonstration against the FTAA starts in front of the Hall Building at 3 p.m.

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