achieving their agreed counternarcotics goals. Summit leaders also agreed to improve cooperation on extraditing and prosecuting individuals charged with narcotics trafficking and related crimes; strengthen efforts against money laundering and forfeiture of assets used in criminal activity; reinforce international and national mechanisms to halt illicit traffic and diversion of chemical precursors; enhance national programs for fostering greater awareness of the dangers of drug abuse, preventing illicit drug consumption and providing treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration; and eliminate illicit crops through national alternative development programs, eradication and interdiction.
We are also pursuing a number of bilateral and regional counternarcotics initiatives. As part of our partnership with Mexico, we are striving to increase counterdrug and law enforcement cooperation, while in the Caribbean we are intensifying a coordinated effort on counternarcotics and law enforcement. The reduction in trade barriers resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows more inspection resources to be directed to thwarting attempts by organized crime to exploit the expanding volume of trade for increased drug smuggling.
The Santiago Summit addressed other transnational security concerns as well. Summit leaders called for the rapid ratification and entry into force of the 1997 Inter-American Convention to Combat the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition Explosives and Related Material. They also agreed to encourage states to accede to the international conventions related to terrorism and convene, under the auspices of the OAS, the Second Specialized Inter-American Conference to evaluate the progress attained and to define future courses of action for the prevention, combat and elimination of terrorism.
We are advancing regional security cooperation through bilateral security dialogues, multilateral efforts in the Organization of American States (OAS) and Summit of the Americas on transparency and regional confidence and security building measures, exercises and exchanges with key militaries (principally focused on peacekeeping), and regular Defense Ministerials. Working with Argentina, Brazil and Chile, the other three guarantor nations of the Peru-Ecuador peace process, the United States has brought the parties closer to a permanent solution to this decades-old border dispute, the resolution of which is important to regional stability. The Military Observer Mission, Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP), composed of the four guarantor nations, successfully separated the warring factions, created the mutual confidence and security among the guarantor nations. The U.S. sponsored multilateral military exercise focused on combating drug trafficking, supporting disaster relief (particularly important because of the El Nino phenomenon) and participation in international peacekeeping. It has spurred unprecedented exercises among neighboring countries in Central America and the Southern Cone. Additionally, the Southern Cone has increasingly shared the burden of international peacekeeping operations. The Santiago Summit tasked the OAS to expand topics relating to confidence and security building measures with the goal of convening a Special Conference on Security by the beginning of the next decade. Several countries in the region have joined our call to promote transparency by publishing white papers on defense. Our efforts to encourage multilateral cooperation are enhancing confidence and security within the region and will help expand our cooperative efforts to combat the transnational threats to the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Columbia where social, political and criminal violence is spilling across borders. We are also working to ensure successful transfer of stewardship of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian people.
In light of the advances in democratic stability throughout Latin America and mindful of the need for restraint, the Administration has moved to case-bycase consideration of requests for advanced conventional arms transfers, on par with other areas of the world. Such requests will be reviewed in a way that will serve our objectives of promoting defense cooperation, restraint in arms acquisition and military budgets, and an increased focus on peacekeeping, counternarcotics efforts and disaster relief.
Economic growth and integration in the Americas will profoundly affect the prosperity of the United States in the 21st century. Latin America has become the fastest growing economic region in the world and our fastest growing export market. In 1998, our exports to Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to exceed those to the EU.
Building on the vision articulated at Miami in 1994 and the groundwork laid by trade ministers over the last four years, the Santiago Summit launched formal negotiations to initiate the FTAA by 2005. The negotiations will cover a broad range of important issues, including market access, investment, services, government procurement, dispute settlement, agriculture, intellectual property rights, competition policy, subsidies, anti-dumping and countervailing duties. A Committee on Electronic Commerce will explore the implications of electronic commerce for the design of the FTAA, and a Committee on Civil Society will provide a formal mechanism for labor, business, consumer, environmental and other non-government organizations to make recommendations on the negotiations so that all citizens can benefit from trade. Governments also will cooperate on promoting core labor standards recognized by the International Labor Organization.
We seek to advance the goal of an integrated hemisphere of free market democracies by consolidating NAFTA’s gains and obtaining Congressional Fast Track trade agreement implementing authority. Since the creation of NAFTA, our exports to Mexico have risen significantly while the Agreement helped stabilize Mexico through its worst financial crisis in modern history. Considering that Mexico has now become our second-largest export market, it is imperative that its economy remain open to the United States and NAFTA helps to ensure that. We will continue working with Mexico and interested private parties to continue the mutually beneficial trade with our largest trading partner and neighbor to the north, Canada. We are also committed to delivering on the President’s promise to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with Chile because of its extraordinary economic performance and its active role in promoting hemispheric economic integration.
While we support the freer flow of goods and investment, there is also reason to be sensitive to the concerns of smaller economies during the period of transition to the global economy of the 21st century. To address this problem, and in light of the increased competition NAFTA presents to Caribbean trade, we will seek Congressional approval to provide enhanced trade benefits under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) to help prepare that region for participation in the FTAA. With the assistance of institutions such as OPIC, we will encourage the private sector to take the lead in developing small and medium-sized businesses in the Caribbean through the increased flow of investment capital. We must also encourage Caribbean countries and territories to implement programs to attract foreign and domestic investment.
At the Santiago Summit, the hemisphere’s leaders reaffirmed that all citizens must participate in the opportunities and prosperity created by free market democracy. They pledged to ensure access to financial services for a significant number of the 50 million micro, small and medium