"The Summit of the Americas, held 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 NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]. 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. Two other issues that subsequently have emerged involve a request by the Andean countries to extend and expand the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA), and consideration of a free trade agreement with five Central American countries. 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 and negotiations eventually commenced December 6-7, 2000 in Washington. The Bush Administration has continued the negotiations with the hope of reaching an agreement sometime in 2002. 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."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB95017
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/