On the occasion of the Third Trade Union Summit, parallel to the Ministerial Meeting of the
FTAA, in Belo Horizonte on the 12th and 13th of May, 1997, representatives of the trade union
organizations of the Americas, affitiated and fraternal organizations of the ORIT/ICFTU and a
number of important social organizations, have had the opportunity of sharing our respective
work on the social dimension of integration.
As a part of this meeting, the trade union movement has reviewed the joint text prepared by
networks of organizations from Mexico, the United States, Canada, Chile and El Salvador and
presented to U.S. President Clinton during his recent tour of Mexico, Central America and the
Caribbean and signed by other organizations.
As an example of the will to achieve an effective complimentary between the perspectives and
actions strategies of the trade union movement and other social movements, we have approved
this declaration, based on the aforementioned document and on the trade union experience
acquired in the various subregional processes of integration. Therefore this declaration can be
seen as complementary to that of the III Trade Union Summit.
1. There should be no FTAA if it is to be converted into an agreement similar to other existing
agreeements, such as NAFTA. We need an agreement which promotes genuine development for
all of the peoples of the hemisphere; one that recognizes and attempts to reduce the differences in
levels of development; one that allows for integration of our economies, based on democratically
determined national development models; and one that is based on a concensus. Strong national
economies must be the basis for a strong continent. We are proposing an agreement designed for
sustainable development rather than for trade liberalization.
Trade agreernents are not be an end in themselves, but rather a means toward combatting poverty
and social exclusion, for achieaving just and sustainable development. We do not support
isolationism or traditional protectionism. We are not nostalgic for the past. We are looking
forward and we have viable proposals. We know that our economies cannot be isolated from the
dynamics of the world economy, but we do not think that free trade is the solution. The problem
is that free trade involves more than the opening of borders; it involves the abandonment of
national development models, and poses a serious threat to democracy.
Any national development model, to be viable, must take into account trade and world economic
conditions. It must also build on cach nation's potential and develop a strategy to establish its
unique position in the world. It has never been demonstrated that the market achieves optimal
distribution of resources and the fruits of dovelopment. So-called free trade is actually trade
regulation that increases the advantages of intemational capital speculativc or not, over
productive investment, and over the rights and well-being of workers.
2. There should be no FTAA if it does not include a social agenda that contains at least the
following fundamental elements:
i) There must be broadly-based citizen participation in the negotiation of any agreement, and its
ratification must occur in each country through genuinely democratic means.
ii) Any agreement must include respect for and improvement of the social and economic rights of
workers, womens, who have suffred the greatest impact caused by restructuring of production,
campesinos, indigenous pooples and migrant workers.
3. Competitiveness for our countries must not be based on the exploitation of workers and social
dumping. The current tendency towards downward harmonization of working conditions and
wages must be stoped, promoting s instead an upward harmonizations of labour conditions over
the medium term and a recovery of wages. The starting point should be ILO conventions that
guarantee freedom of association, collective bargaining, prohibition of child labour and forced
labour and, no discrinination based on sex, race or religion. Moreover, we demand a Charter of
Social and Economic Right for Citizens of the Americas, acompanied by democratic and
transparent enforcement mechanisms.
4. There should be no FTAA if it does not also include protection and improvement of the
environment, ensure respect for the rights of migrant workers and place special attention on food
security, and therefore, on the protection and support for campesinos, small-scale farmers, and
the social sector, without subsidizing large agribusiness corporations. It should also protect and
promote micro and small urban enterprises, because of their capacity for generating employment.
5. There should be no FTAA if it does not protect people from the vulnerabity and instability
caused by speculative capital and fly-by-night investments. Chile, despite the fact that it is the
Latin American pioneer in free trade, has protections on portfolio investment: authorization is
required; a percentage must be deposited in the Central Bank, and it must be held in the country
for a minimum period. Regarding foreign investment, performance requirements must be
negotiatied, with regulation that protects labour rights. Intellectual property, which is primarily
held by large corporations, should be protected, but not at the expense of global progress toward
a social dimension, including national sovereignty. The subject of foreign debt must also be
taken up again, as it continues to reduce the ability of governments to act in key areas of
development, such as housing, health, education and environment.
6. On trade issues, the problem of non-tariff barriers must be resolved. The elimination of non-tariff barriers to legitimate trade should not be confused wieth lowering sanitary and
phytosanitary barriers for environmental protection. The interaction of our economies should be
support national integration of productive linkages, for which we demand rules of origin with
This Summit was a first step toward complementary work between trade unions and other social
organizations, which could be made more concrete at the time of the Second Summit of Head of
State of the Americas next March in Santiago, Chile, with the convening of a Peoples' Summit
of the Americas, in order to build a hemispheric social alliance. Towards that end, in the coming
monts, we must establish mechanisms of communication and coordination, draw new
organizations into the initiative, exchange joint proposals, and participate together in activities
linked to these goals.
We sill work in our respective countries to defeat any agreement that is not consistent with these
This declaration remains open to endorsements by other trade union and social organizations.
Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC)
Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART-U.S.)
Common Frontiers (Canada)
Action Canada Network
Chilean Network for a Peoples' Initiative (RECHIP)
Brazilian Association of NGOs (ABONG)
Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (U.S.)
National Indigenous Council of Mexico.
National Union El Barzon (Mexico)
Reséau Québécois sur l'intégration continental.
Conféderation des syndicats nationaux (CSN - Quebec)
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