Cultural diversity

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Les ententes bilatérales de commerce dans l’agenda commercial des États-Unis

Coalitions en mouvement, Vol. 2, no 2, mars 2004 – 2004/03

This edition of the Bulletin by the Coalitions for Cultural Diversity informs us that bilateral trade agreements are at the heart of the American strategy. In this regard, the Bulletin reports on an article appearing in the Financial Times, according to which US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is leading a campaign to this end, following the stalled Doha Round negotiations during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003. In addition, the Bulletin describes a detailed document on U.S. strategy in international trade, demonstrating how this threat could become reality. According to Bulletin, the President’s 2004 Trade Policy Agenda and the 2003 Annual Report on the Trade Agreements Program paints a picture of the situation that is hardly reassuring, clearly revealing that “the American strategy is to take advantage of these negotiations to conclude precedent-setting agreements in every region of the world.” Washington’s Trade Policy Agenda indicates, in particular, that recent agreements resulting from bilateral negotiations with Australia, Chile, Morocco, and Singapore “are a test run for a much broader wave of bilateral agreements that are now in the works.” The Bulletin also emphasizes, “The Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report also make clear that free trade agreements do not emerge in isolation. They are generally preceded by more rudimentary bilateral agreements that lay the foundation for a full-fledged free trade agreement.” These preliminary bilaterals consist of Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, or TIFAs and Bilateral Investment Treaties, or BITs. As the Report explains, “These customized arrangements can be employed to resolve trade and investment issues, to improve performance in areas such as intellectual property rights and customs enforcement, and to lay the groundwork for a possible FTA.” According to the Bulletin, the U.S. had 24 FTAs concluded, in negotiation or announced. Forty-five BITs had been concluded or were in the works, and 52 Trade and Investment Frame Work Agreements had concluded. In all, 121 trade negotiations with some 90 countries (TIFA and BIT negotiations are sometimes undertaken with a country concurrently). The Bulletin also provides excerpts of the Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report signalling U.S. intentions in several key regions of the world. (Available also in French, English, Spanish)