FTAA MOVES TO OPEN BORDERS TO MORE FREE TRADE
North and South American countries are beginning to show signs that they
are willing to reduce trade barriers between them.
At a ministerial meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in
Toronto last week, 34 countries accepted eight business facilitation
proposals aimed at moving goods faster across their borders. These
proposals include ways to establish compatible electronic-data-interchange systems,
harmonized commodity descriptions and codes, transparency of customs procedures and
rulings through broad dissemination of information, and a better focus on high-risk cargo
for customs inspections.
The FTAA countries also approved the Cancun Accord. This accord is the result
of four years of hard-fought lobbying by express carriers Federal Express, UPS, TNT and
DHL to reduce customs barriers to their shipments.
"We are pleased with the results so far," said Francisco X.
managing director of global trade services in Latin American and the
Caribbean for Federal Express. "Although some aspects of the accord may take longer
to implement than others, we at least have a concrete framework with which to move
Other industry groups, such as the Joint Industry Group and the National
Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, applaud the results of the FTAA
meeting. "Without these fundamental initiatives, free trade can never be fully
achieved," Peter Powell, Sr., president of the NCBFAA.