Thirty-four countries in the Western Hemisphere are working toward the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Nine trade negotiation committees have been created in order to develop institutional issues, ensure participation from all countries and facilitate the necessary negotiations needed for the formation of the free trade agreement. For years the countries have reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, opened doors to foreign investment, and privatized many sectors. Their goals have been to stimulate competition, promote efficiency and benefit consumers. Several major meetings have been held in order to discuss the necessary mechanisms needed for an agreement. The approximate date for the FTAA's establishment is 2005.