15 de Diciembre de 2018
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Colección: Trends for a common future
Autor: Sidney Weintraub
Título: Technical Cooperation Needs for Hemispheric trade Negotiations
A. Some Cross-Cutting Negotiating Issues

Many preliminary negotiating matters have been and are being attended to. The three Tripartite Committee institutions supporting the FTAA negotiations (the OAS, IDB, and ECLAC) have pulled together and are regularly updating inventories on the structure and nature of tariff schedules, trade impediments (tariffs, nontariff measures, and subsidies) in agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, antidumping and countervailing duties, investment policies, national laws and regulations on competition policy, measures affecting trade in services, government procurement procedures, and others. Studies have been requested of the effects of economic integration on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), fiscal dependence and trade liberalization, the relationship between trade and financial liberalization, and the significance of financial issues for smaller countries. The implications for different countries of the growing field of electronic commerce are being examined. Most countries of the hemisphere are already better equipped for their participation in this negotiation, despite its large scope, than they were for past negotiations.

There are other aspects that cut across all the negotiating groups, some of which could benefit from TC. These include the following:
  • All developed countries have organized arrangements under which trade negotiators consult regularly with the private sector, both generally and specifically, about what private business seeks to obtain and what it wants to protect in the negotiations. This is required by statute in the United States. The Mexican authorities built up an elaborate sectoral structure to do this in the NAFTA negotiations. Guidance on how to best carry out regular substantive interchanges between the trade negotiators and interested private sector groups definitely should be part of the TC effort.
  • The normal practice in most countries is to designate a lead person for the conduct of negotiations. Positions on sectoral and functional matters all pass through this lead negotiator, who also must assure that there is proper inter-agency coordination back home. Personnel from different agencies may take the lead in specific negotiating groups—treasury for financial issues, agriculture in its field, justice on competition issues, and so on—but under the general supervision of the lead negotiator. The relevant TC in this instance would be on the organization of negotiating teams for the FTAA. (When the team consists of one person, this obviously is not relevant.)
  • In organizing for the down-to-earth bargaining, countries must formulate their positions, negotiating group by negotiating group. Practiced negotiators think not only about opening positions, but also about the end game. The starting points will be modified in the course of the negotiations, and a major aspect of any negotiation is to understand the limits of compromise for the country, and to understand what changes in laws and regulations may be required at that point. This TC on negotiation merges at the margins with the need for assistance in formulating the role of the trade negotiation in accomplishing broader development program objectives.
  • It is unlikely, given the nature of this hemispheric negotiation, that the more developed countries will provide explicit tariff or nontariff preferences to those countries that are less developed. The main area of flexibility to favor countries with smaller economies will be the nature of the transition to free trade—the negotiation of different time frames for transitions, the exceptions to free trade permitted during that period, the discrimination that may be inherent during the transition as a result of existing preferences in subregional arrangements, and other related issues. This is a significant area for which smaller economies, and perhaps some larger ones as well, will need guidance.
  • The question of trade remedies will be of concern to all the participating countries in each of the negotiating groups. This is an area in which international institutions dedicated to trade issues—mainly the WTO—have considerable expertise and can provide counsel to the participating countries about how countries have exercised trade remedies and what is consistent (or inconsistent) with the obligations undertaken.
  • Finally, the participating countries have agreed to renew their commitments to observe internationally recognized worker rights and to make their trade liberalization and environmental policies mutually supportive. The precise manner in which these trade-liberalization/worker-rights/ environmental-protection issues will be linked is controversial. There probably is no way in which TC can help resolve the differing viewpoints of countries. It is important, nevertheless, that countries be aware of the range of views on these issues and perhaps those organizations—public and private, national and international—that have had experience in managing the different viewpoints can provide background information to negotiators who have had no direct experience themselves.