A free-trade area encompassing 34 countries with a total population of 800 million and a combined output of $11 trillion.
Under the original schedule, negotiations are to conclude by Jan. 1, 2005. Accord could take effect within the year.
Import tariffs on trade between member countries would fall to zero over the course of a decade or more. Nontariff barriers, such as quotas and subsidies, would be gradually dismantled. Trade in services will also be liberalized. Investment rules will be harmonized. A special mechanism will be created to arbitrate trade disputes between member nations. Agreement may also include some labor and environmental standards, with compliance enforced through trade sanctions or monetary fines.