Elbert Hubbarda writer killed aboard the Lusitania in 1915is said to have written some 7 million words in his lifetime. Here are 17 of my favorite: The reason that men oppose progress is not that they hate progress but that they love inertia.

Thats precisely the problem world trade faces today. Weve come to stand on the shoulders of a half-centurys worth of remarkable progress: Trade barriers are lower and global trade more brisk than ever before.

But weve also fallen into a fit of complacencyor inertia, as Hubbard called it. Progress in free trade doesnt just happen by itself. Thats the fundamental lesson of the WTO meeting in Cancun two months ago, when talks fell apart because a group of developing countries (the so-called G21) came to the table with a series of demands and a refusal to offer any concessions.

Unless we keep pushing free trade forward, like Sisyphus going up the hill, progress will halt altogether. It may even slip into reversewhich is even worse than the inertia of doing nothing at all.

Thats why the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting this week in Miami is so important. Although its not part of the WTO process, the Florida confab is the first major international trade gathering since Cancun. Brazil was one of the countries chiefly responsible for the breakdown of talks in Mexicoand its a major player in FTAA. If were going to have any kind of a deal at all, Brazil must become a willing participant. Its commitment to free trade is being put to the test right now.

The Miami meeting, بالطبع, wont produce a big trade pactthe negotiations will continue for a few more years before theyre done. But that doesnt mean we cant measure progress. Think of it this wayWe wont score a touchdown on this play, but we can move the ball forward a few yards and perhaps even gain a first down. Or we can get stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Worse still, we might fumble the ball, turning it over to the anti-trade coalition of radical activists and special interests that prefer the phony comforts of protectionism to the broad-based benefits of robust growth.

We know for a fact that many of the countries south of our border want to cooperate on trade deals. A decade ago, بعد كل ذلك, Mexico joined NAFTAa huge success for most involved, despite a few recent bumps in the road on high fructose corn syrup and the like. Were also currently in the process of wrapping up NAFTAs partner in rhyme, CAFTAthe Central American Free Trade Agreementwith Costa Rica, المنقذ, هندوراس, Guatemala and Nicaragua. These five developing countries recognize the importance of generating free trade with the United States.

The rest of the Americas will cooperate as well, so long as countries like Brazil approach the FTAA negotiations with a level of seriousness that we quite frankly didnt see on display in Cancun. I recognize that trade representatives often must attend to political realities back home and that sometimes they perform more for their own media outlets than for the good of the global economy. It would be silly ever to expect something else in initial talks. But, its time to move beyond the politics and sounds bites and do whats right. Im hoping that the failure to achieve anything of substance at Cancun will leave Brazil and its neighbors hungry for at least some limited success in Miami.

In Cancun, the developing countries may have thought they drew a hard line in the sand. But anybody who has ever walked on a beach knows that the tides eventually wash away everything. Lets hope that they will have washed away the bitter feelings and dashed expectations of two months ago in order to advance FTAA.

The United States is ready to progress. Soon well know if Latin America is as well.