Some South American politicians also raised the possibility of political union and said it would be “the most important political development of the decade.” Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim stressed the importance of creating institutions necessary for South America`s economic integration and continuing to do the same in the future for the social and political integration of the “South American Community”. (60) Heads of state and government expect South American integration to put South American countries in a stronger position in negotiations with the rest of the world, including a possible free trade agreement with the EU and the US Free Trade Area (FTA). Interest in strengthening integration with Latin America was supported by the foreign ministers of the 12 ALADI countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela). On December 7, 2005, the United States and Peru announced that they had successfully concluded a bilateral free trade agreement. On January 6, 2006, President Bush informed Congress of the United States` intention to sign a free trade agreement with Peru. Colombia and Ecuador are continuing trade negotiations with the United States this year. Talks with Colombia are scheduled to take place from 25 to 31 January 2006, while talks with Ecuador are expected to resume in February 2006. Colombian and Ecuadorian negotiators expressed hope of concluding the talks at their next meetings. If the two countries reach an agreement with the United States, it is not certain that they would partner with Peru to conclude a free trade agreement between the United States and the Andes or whether the free trade agreement between the United States and Peru would be considered a separate agreement. Since the 1990s, Latin American and Caribbean countries have focused on U.S. trade policy, as evidenced by the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, and, more recently, the Central Republic-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The Bush administration made trade agreements important elements of U.S. trade policy.
The United States is in the process of concluding trade negotiations with Andean countries for a free trade agreement (FTA) and the reactivation of talks on a free trade agreement between the United States and Panama and a U.S. Free Trade Area (FTA). EstV Aista is an ongoing regional trade initiative that was first discussed in 1994 and officially launched in 1998. The last meeting of FTA trade ministers was held in Miami in November 2003, but discussions are currently stalled. The U.S. efforts for regional trade integration in the United States are important to Congress, as U.S. membership in a free trade agreement can only take place with legislative approval from Congress. American proponents of trade integration in America believe it helps the economic and political interests of the United States in many ways. Supporters believe that the U.S. trade integration movement is beneficial to the prosperity of the United States and also serves to strengthen democratic regimes and support U.S.
values and security. Closer economic relations with countries in the region are seen by some as a means of improving cooperation on other issues such as the environment and the fight against drugs. U.S. opponents of trade integration proposals are particularly concerned that hemispheric free trade will result in job losses in the United States due to increased import competition or following the United States.