Belize has been working, along with others of the hemisphere on a draft Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas to be placed before the Summit of the Americas which gets
under way in Quebec, next week.

The Summit will bring together all the leaders of North, Central and South America for
seminal discussions on what President Bush calls Free Trade from Alaska to Argentina.

Last week Budget Minister Ralph Fonseca joined Ambassador Eamon Courtenay and CEO
Cresencio Sosa in Buenos Aires for consultations with hemispheric leaders.

Belize and her CARICOM colleagues are insisting on special and differential treatment for
small countries as provided in the 1994 General Agreement on Tariff and Trade, this to
allow transition time and special phasing arrangements for less developed small countries.

Such lobbying has been met with unsatisfactory results in the past, Belize representatives
report, but results have been more encouraging since CARICOM countries have begun to
speak with one voice.

President Bush and others in America have been calling for advancing the deadline for Free
Trade compliance from December 2005 to 2003. Brazil and other South American nations,
and now the CARICOM countries, have weighed in to say they don't think this is such a
good idea.

The Buenos Aires meeting agreed that in designing the Free Trade Agreement of the
Americas, special opportunities must be created for the full participation of smaller
economies, to increase their development level and competitiveness.

Delegates also agreed that negotiations should continue to take into account the broad
social and economic need to raise living standards, improve working conditions and protect
the environment.