Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: Background and Analysis [Updated May 3, 2005] [open pdf - 104KB]
"The Bush Administration has made bilateral and regional free-trade agreements (FTAs) more important elements of U.S. trade policy, a strategy known as 'competitive liberalization.' This strategy, it argues, will push forward trade liberalization simultaneously on bilateral, regional and multilateral fronts. It is meant to spur trade negotiations by liberalizing trade with countries willing to join FTAs, and to pressure other countries to negotiate multilaterally. Some contend, however, that the accent on regional and bilateral negotiations undermines the multilateral forum and increases the risk of trade diversion away from competitive countries not in the trade bloc. The United States is participating in several regional and bilateral trade negotiations. Agreements were concluded and became effective during the 108th Congress with Australia, Chile, Morocco, and Singapore. Agreements have been signed with the five countries of the Central American Common Market (CACM) and the Dominican Republic, and with Bahrain. Negotiations are underway with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Panama, and Thailand. Talks with the Andean nations of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador began in May 2004. Negotiations are expected to begin with the United Arab Emirates and Oman early in 2005. Several other trade initiatives are under discussion, including a U.S.-Middle East FTA and an FTA with countries in southeast Asia."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10123
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/