Almost ten years ago a new concept of the economic integration of the American continent was presented. It had been planned that a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) for 34 countries would be established by the year 2005. This paper outlines the basic principles of FTAA as well as the course of events in the preceding negotiations. The authoress examines arguments of supporters and critics of FTAA. The analysis of ten years Mexican experience within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), presented in the article, indicates that a new approach to the continental integration is necessary. This new approach should, in turn, recognize greater needs of poor countries in the course of integration process. The idea of FTAA still evokes many controversies, the prospects for the final agreement are not as certain as they seemed when the idea was conceived.