Business News

Business News NEWSROOM

Political will lacking for FTAA -- Fed's Fisher (In the News)

Oct. 26, 2005

WACO, Texas, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The Bush administration's resolve to push for a free trade deal spanning the Western Hemisphere has weakened as other issues have come to dominate in Washington, a senior U.S. Federal Reserve official said on Friday.

"In my opinion, respectfully, it's just not on the table right now," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher, who served as a trade negotiator under President Bill Clinton, told a conference at Baylor University.

Fisher said the Bush administration had been actively engaged in an effort to secure a deal on the proposed Free Trade Area for the Americas "until other things distracted the current president's attention."

But the former deputy U.S. trade representative said a lack of will to nail down the FTAA, a deal that would tear down trade barriers among every country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, was not only a problem in Washington.

"We're not getting the leadership initiative from the very highest because there are other things to do, but also because our counterparts in Latin America are not providing that leadership imperative," Fisher said.

"Unless there is political willpower ... then you are not going to get very far," he said.

Talks on the FTAA proposal have been stalled for over a year due to differences over trade in agricultural products, intellectual property and government purchases, among other issues.

Fisher said Brazil's lack of commitment to the FTAA was also a significant stumbling block. "Unless you get Brazil intimately involved, unless there is a moral imperative for Brazil, it will not happen," he said.

Brazil has said cementing a global trade deal at the World Trade Organization needs to take precedence over efforts to create a free-trade zone in the Americas.

Border Title