"The Summit of the Americas, held in Miami in December 1994, led to ongoing congressional interest in three inter-related trade policy issues. The first involves an invitation extended to Chile to join the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA). The second focuses on preferential tariff treatment for Caribbean and Central American countries. The third concerns movement towards a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the concept of making the entire hemisphere a free-trade zone. A fourth issue has subsequently arisen concerning a request by the Andean countries to extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) beyond its scheduled December 4, 2001 expiration date. Following the Miami Summit, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico invited Chile to enter into negotiations to accede to NAFTA. Envisioned as a first step towards creation of an FTAA, preliminary negotiations started in July 1995. Chile, however, shortly thereafter suspended the negotiations pending renewal of U.S. 'fast-track' negotiating authority. In August 1999, Chile proposed to re-start discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement (not NAFTA accession), and negotiations eventually commenced December 6-7, 2000 in Washington. The Bush Administration has continued the negotiations with the hope of reaching an agreement by early this year. A second issue concerns the treatment of the Caribbean and Central American countries that may have been hurt in trade and investment terms as a result of the implementation of NAFTA. After many years of consideration, Congress in May 2000 enacted the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (Title II of P.L. 106-200) that provides benefits for CBI [Caribbean Basin Initiative] beneficiary countries that are similar to the tariff benefits afforded Mexico."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB95017
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/