U.S. Proposes Elimination Of Textile Tariffs For Americas Trade Area

By Agence France-Presse The United States on Feb. 11 proposed eliminating tariffs on all textile and apparel goods within five years of the launch of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The proposal was contained in the U.S. offer for the hemispheric trade pact, which officials hope to create by 2005. "The U.S. has created a detailed road map for free trade in the western hemisphere. We've put all our tariffs on the table, because free trade benefits all and brings us closer together as neighbors," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said. The proposal would eliminate all duties on consumer and industrial products by 2015. And 65% of consumer and industrial goods tariffs would be eliminated immediately upon launch of the FTAA. The plan, which must be accepted by the 34 nations seeking to form a free-trade zone for all of North and South America by Jan. 1, 2005, does not include any reductions in the most contentious sector, agricultural subsidies. But it does include phased-in reduction of agriculture import tariffs. Fifty-six percent of agriculture import tariffs would be eliminated immediately upon initiation of the FTAA, while other agricultural tariffs would be reduced in stages lasting longer than 10 years. Each country planning to participate in the FTAA must submit a proposal by Feb. 15 for negotiating the trade pact. The United States is the first country to announce this proposal. Among other highlights of the U.S. offer:

  • Immediate elimination of tariffs is offered on a reciprocal basis in chemicals, construction and mining equipment, electrical equipment, energy products, environmental products, information technology, medical equipment, non-woven fabric, paper, steel and wood products.
  • Companies in FTAA countries would be able to compete for U.S. government procurement contracts on an equal footing with firms from current North American Free Trade Agreement partners for goods and services purchased by 51 federal government agencies. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003
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