June 18, 2003
TRADE, FTAA RETURN LATAM TO BUSH AGENDA
** Secretary Powell's visits to Santiago and Buenos Aires, the
signing of the U.S.-Chile FTA and the push to step up FTAA negotiations
indicate a "renewed" U.S. commitment to Latin America.
** Hemispheric trade deals and alliances could spark regional
** Latin writers hold onto misgivings about the FTAA's
"feasibility" and an uneven playing field.
Focus on Chile, Argentina and Brazil economies for long-term U.S.
regional agenda-- Given recent trade
negotiations, writers saw a new U.S. strategy in Latin America, ultimately
aimed at promoting the FTAA. Chile's
government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion explained that
Powell's tour meant to show Brazil and Argentina the benefits of Chile's FTA
and "thus provide assurance there is no reason to fear the
FTAA." Though Argentine dailies
held no illusions that Washington would let Argentina off the hook before it
produced a "credible economic plan," daily-of-record La Nacion
claimed that Powell made a "positive contribution" to "the future economic performance of our
country" by conveying U.S. support for a "long-term agreement"
between Argentina and the IMF. Brazilian
dailies cited "deep differences" with the U.S., but as Brazil's
ambassador to the U.S. asserted in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo, Lula's
trip could transform an "important relationship" to a
Southern Cone moving closer, Andean group coming apart?-- Argentine and Brazilian
dailies portrayed the "strategic alliance" struck between Kirchner
and Lula as an "historic moment" in the two countries' bilateral
relations which put Mercosur back on track toward the "economic integration
of the Southern Cone." Papers
supported Mercosur's proposed "four-plus-one deal under the FTAA
umbrella," seeing it possible to both "strengthen the bloc and
negotiate the FTAA." Brazil's Valor
Economico, however, alleged that U.S. "attempts to cut bilateral trade
agreements while negotiating the FTAA" proved its "desire to isolate
Brazil." Ecuadorian editorials
warned that Andean countries living in this
"disconcerting" time could be lured into
"abandoning" regional integration in favor of the "path of
bilateralism." Criticizing Colombia
for angling for a bilateral deal with Washington, centrist El Universo
called Uribe's request "the final thrust of the sword" into the
"ridiculous Andean Community of Nations."
FTAA offers 'benefits and threats'; its feasibility 'uncertain'-- Writers cited the
North-South asymmetry, the U.S.' "refusing to offer any ground" on
agricultural subsidies and Brazil's resistance as major barriers to FTAA
implementation. Papers were divided, not
wanting to "surrender to the will of the U.S." but also recognizing
the "inevitability" of the FTAA.
Capturing the commonly-held despair over the disparities among countries
that determined their competitiveness, Ecuador's leading El Comercio
decided that since "the structural conditions under which we produce goods
are negative...we cannot be competitive."
A Trinidadian daily, meanwhile, judged the FTAA terms "akin to
asking a fly-weight boxer to get into the same ring with a super-heavyweight."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 55 reports from 10
countries, May 3 to June 18. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
ARGENTINA: "New IMF Negotiations"
An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion read (6/17): "(During his visit) Secretary Powell
expressed the U.S. disposition to support a long-term agreement by Argentina
with the IMF. This declaration was interpreted as a positive contribution aimed
at facilitating, further on...the future economic performance of our country.
The idea is to avoid repeating very short-term agreements -- such as the one
signed in 2002 - in order to reach a more structural and appropriate framework
aimed at renegotiating the public and private debt, and recovering predictability
and trust.... The immediate search of a mid-term agreement with the IMF--which
will probably be discussed in depth during Horst Kohler's up-coming visit--will
be an unpredictable challenge for the new administration. Nevertheless, it will
most likely be a way to cope with an inexorable reality. The sooner we face it,
the social and economic cost needed to solve it will be much less."
"Behind Brazil, Argentina Goes Out To World
To Seek Its Place In World"
Walter Curia, political columnist of leading Clarin
commented (6/13): "Little has been said about what Bielsa and Colin Powell
spoke in their hour-and-a-half flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires. But it is
known that the U.S. Secretary of State was interested in a balance being
reached in the relationship between Argentina and Brazil. Some aides of the
Argentine foreign minister let the media know that the secretary of state
acknowledged the Brazilian leadership in the region, but he also suggested in
one phrase what Argentina's role should be. 'Brazil has a natural important
leadership, but Argentina must keep a conceptual leadership: this is the work
you have ahead,' Powell said to Bielsa. There is a short step between this
purpose and practice, and this is one of the thorniest issues in the bilateral
relationship: it comes down to the regional seat in a future expansion of the
number of permanent members of the UN Security Council.... Argentina's strategic alliance with Brazil
confronts Argentina with its definitive status as a minor partner. It should be considered as another good
"New 'Four-Plus-One' Deal Proposal To The
Cecilia Boufflet, columnist for
business-financial InfoBae wrote (6/13):
"Argentina and Brazil will propose to the U.S. a four-plus-one deal
under the FTAA umbrella, and they will ask for compensation for U.S.
agricultural subsidies until the greatest hemispheric economy eliminates those
programs in parallel negotiations at the WTO.... While the U.S. has not agreed
to make progress in the four-plus-one via...the proposal submitted by Mercosur
to subject one deal to the other could be accepted by the U.S. in order to
grant Mercosur effective market access commitments."
An editorial in liberal, English-language Buenos
Aires Herald read (6/13): "Even at his most tactful and benevolent,
Powell could not skirt the issue of legal security while his assent to a
long-term agreement with the IMF should not be confused with condoning
delay.... On the contrary, in U.S. eyes the return of economic stability should
make it possible to start repaying the foreign debt.... And nor does Argentina lack grievances on its
side with the U.S. refusing to offer any ground on farm export subsidies
outside the global framework of the WTO. On this basis everything would seem to
favor Kirchner's choice in making Brazil his first stop abroad and all
Wednesday's florid rhetoric about relaunching Mercosur with a common
Parliament, monetary integration, a better customs union, etc. But Kirchner
should not run before he can walk.... As relaunched on Wednesday, Mercosur
remains a balloon sustained by hot air."
"U.S. Satisfaction After The Powell Visit to
Jorge Rosales, daily-of-record La Nacion
Washington-based correspondent, wrote (6/12) "Curtis Struble, Assistant
Secretary for Latin American affairs, said 'President Kirchner told Secretary
Powell that he wants Argentina to be a 'foreseeable country' in terms of
judicial security, economic policy and foreign relations, which means it wants
to become a 'credible partner' for the rest of the nations in the
hemisphere.'... Powell's trip marked the
USG's highest point of rapprochement with the Kirchner administration, in an
attempt to rebuild bilateral relations after the deterioration they suffered during
the last stage of Duhalde's office."
"Kirchner, Lula See Eye To Eye"
Liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald
says (6/12): "In his first foreign visit since taking office as
Argentina's president, Kirchner met yesterday with his Brazilian counterpart
Lula da Silva and called for the creation of a parliament for member countries
of the Mercosur trade zone.... Kirchner added that the only way forward for the
two nations was to strengthen and expand Mercosur after it was strained back to
a breaking-point in 2001 and 2002 by the political and economic chaos in
Argentina. 'We want to be a single voice
in the world, with strength, with projection, with the ability to achieve
things for our people,' said Kirchner."
"Kirchner And Lula's Bet: Politics, Base Of
The 'Strategic Alliance' Sought with Brazil"
Walter Curia, on special assignment in Brasilia
for leading Clarin, wrote (6/12): "Kirchner's visit to Brazil was
so ambitious that its result will only be measured in the long-run. In the
meantime, we have to focus on the euphoria with which Argentina's official
delegation reacted vis-à-vis what its members consider is a historic moment in
bilateral relations with Brazil. Yesterday, Kirchner and Lula launched, in
practice, the announced strategic alliance between Argentina and Brazil, in
which the strengthening of Mercosur as a regional bloc appears as the natural
consequence of this alliance. As we've said before, the goal of this trip to
Brasilia was, above all, political. 'The message is: (integration) is no longer
a game, it's for real now, said a qualified source among the Argentine
delegation to Brazil.'
"A Positive Visit"
An editorial in independent La Prensa
read (6/12): "The U.S. Secretary's fleeting and unofficial visit has left
a positive and hopeful sensation among GOA officials, who were somewhat
surprised at Powell's decision to come to Buenos Aires to meet with Kirchner
and his team of collaborators. There were some doubts on what he came to
request or what the real reasons for his visit were.... Although, in passing, they mentioned the
conflict in the Supreme Court and the expected sending of gendarmes to
Iraq...the key issue was economic aid for Argentina. Powell conveyed President
Bush's clear message of support that the USG is willing to give Argentina so it
will overcome its problems.... Although
interim A/S Struble, who accompanied Powell, said that Argentina hasn't come up
with a credible economic plan yet, and, more over, that Lavagna's plan is still
incomplete, there's a very important aspect of Secretary Powell's visit: Bush
will receive, from the man he trusts most, his first-hand impression of
Kirchner and how he's outlining Argentina's future. It would have been a different story if
Powell had been in Chile, hadn't come to Argentina, would have avoided meeting
with Kirchner and hadn't left us the short but significant message regarding
the support the U.S. is ready to give us. Quite a commitment."
"Powell Promises 'A Lot Of Support' For The
Moderate daily-of-record La Nacion
commented (6/11): "U.S. academics
and political leaders are studying the reasons why the economic policies that
have been successful in other countries failed in Latin America. The conclusion
is that economic modernization cannot happen in a framework in which
institutions are not reliable for society....
What is required is 'second generation reforms,' that is to say, reforms
that make institutions reliable and honest."
"Carnal Relations Are History"
Left-of-center Pagina 12 asserted (6/11):
"Powell's cordiality is not a simple exercise of gentleness. He is used to
being more moderate than U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The problem for
Argentina is that up to now Rumsfeld is much more important than Powell… While
Kirchner has not posed any hostility against George Bush, this is just one side
of the bilateral relationship. If, on the other side, Bush insists that those
who are not with the U.S. are against it, Argentina will be in trouble simply
because it is not Argentina who sets global rules."
"Powell Will Meet With Kirchner On June 10"
Florencia Carbone, political columnist of daily-of-record La
Nacion wrote (5/31): "The
Argentine Government received a U.S. request for a meeting between President
Kirchner and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell... According to an Argentine
government source, 'Brazil has a priority place, but recent gestures are
decisive in dispelling any doubt: Argentina's relationship with the U.S.
continues being highly important both for us and for them.'... According to government sources, one of the
main topics in the agenda will be the fight on terrorism, something that is
never missing in the U.S. agenda after the September 11 attacks. Another priority issue for the U.S. is the
FTAA implementation... Also, Argentina's
imminent renegotiation with the IMF, and the enactment of pending structural
reforms in the banking and judicial system will be included in the U.S.
"Vis-a-Vis The FTAA, Mercosur Must Exercise Its Muscles"
Nestor Restivo, political columnist in leading Clarin,
commented (5/30): "There are different signs that the FTAA will hardly to
be implemented in 2005 and that a new deadline could be announced in the Miami
summit at the end of the year. Brazil and other neighboring countries have
asked for this. They, and particularly Mercosur, need to exercise their muscles
before negotiating a broader agreement having larger risks not only due to
trading asymmetries but also due to the deregulation sought by the FTAA for
capital flows and to the implied threat to sovereign privileges that, in spite
of globalization, still pertain to national governments. Seemingly, it is not
hard for Washington to decelerate. Meanwhile, it reaches country-by-country or
region-by-region deals... Yesterday US Representative Jim Kolbe said in Buenos
Aires that minister Lavagna told him he would prefer to reach a (four plus one)
deal between Mercosur and the US."
"The US Congress Sees The FTAA As Remote"
Horacio Riggi, columnist of business-financial El Cronista
commented (5/30): "Jim Kolbe, Republican representative of the U.S.
Congress, indicated that while the U.S. intends to implement the FTAA, in fact
Washington is more likely to reach a bilateral deal with Mercosur rather than
implementing the FTAA.... Kolbe admitted that agricultural subsidies is one of
the obstacles to making progress in the FTAA implementation.... Kolbe added
that the U.S. will not liberalize the agricultural trade if the EU does not do
it.... Another obstacle is the different
commercial deals being reached between the U.S. and other countries of the
hemisphere.... Anyway, Kolbe does not agree with USTR Zoellick, who believes
the U.S. will continue making progress in the FTAA implementation."
"The U.S., Not Receptive To Mercosur"
Luis Esnal, Sao Paulo-based correspondent for daily-of-record La
Nacion wrote (5/28): "The USG
did not like Brazil's idea, which was supported by Argentina and the other
Mercosur countries, to negotiate a four-plus-one bilateral deal between
Mercosur and the United States. USTR Robert Zoellick suggested this on a visit
to Brazil.... Zoellick also made clear
that he was in Brazil to negotiate the FTAA.... The idea of a four-plus-one
bilateral negotiation would allow focusing on the issues of interest to the
whole Mercosur vis-à-vis the U.S. power as an industrial and agricultural
power. In a slightly threatening tone,
Zoellick said that the FTAA 'could be a competitive advantage vis-à-vis China,
which has demonstrated it could be an increasingly challenging competition in
comparison with Brazil and Mexico'.... Negotiations seem to be deadlocked as
long as U.S. farmers demand more barriers and protection for their products
while Brazil - supported by Argentina - answers back that negotiations will
only make progress when those barriers are lifted. The new meeting between Lula
and George W. Bush in Washington in June will serve to unblock the
BRAZIL: "Brazil And The U.S: A Constructive Partnership"
Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S Rubens Barbosa wrote in liberal Folha
de Sao Paulo (6/18): "We have significantly different points of view
from the U.S when it comes to trade. We also have different opinions regarding
important aspects of the international political agenda. Even so, we've managed
to build, throughout the years, a mature, productive and truly bilateral
relationship.... The day after tomorrow, this relationship will go one step
further.... The new shape of the U.S-Brazil relationship will be made of
periodic meetings between different government agencies. That will allow for
broader political cooperation and the establishment of common programs and
actions.... Brazil and the U.S have always enjoyed an important relationship
and, from now on, they'll develop a constructive partnership."
"The Ever-More-Difficult Prospects For The FTAA"
Business-oriented Valor Economico commented (6/17):
"The main proposal discussed at Wye River was that of Brazilian Foreign
Affairs Minister Celso Amorim - it limits the topics to be considered [within
the framework of the FTAA] to those that can achieve consensus quickly, leaving
the most controversial ones to the WTO Doha Round.... The USG's desire to
isolate Brazil has been made clear by its attempts to cut bilateral [trade]
agreements while negotiating the FTAA.... The conclusion of the weekend meeting
was not a positive one for those who expect the FTAA to be on schedule.... As
Lula told Bush when they first met, Brazil will do what the U.S. has done: it
will defend its national interest above all. He had better."
"Time For Mercosul"
An editorial in right-of-center O Globo noted (6/17):
"After a period of near disintegration....
Mercosul has resumed its original course, which is economic integration
of the Southern Cone.... Mercosul
member-countries can resume negotiations for a gradual elimination of temporary
barriers that impaired the materialization of areal common market in the
region. The friendly atmosphere marking
thecurrent Chiefs-of- State meetings is undoubtedly giving room for the
understanding. That's what one expects
from this Asuncion meeting, where the Argentine Nestor Kirchner and the
Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvashould show new demonstrations of
affinity. Involved in serious economic
problems, though less serious than those faced by Argentina, Brazil ended up by
leaving the Mercosul agenda aside, but now is the time to include the future
bloc in the countries' priorities, also with regard to constitutional
reforms.Both in the changes intended to carry out in the welfare System and in the
taxation system, Brazil's inclusion in Mercosul should be taken into
consideration. Neighbor countries along
with Chile have already adopted welfare regimes that present a lesser burden on
the public expenditures and on the productive sector. In the taxation area, they also present
significant advantages. Such differences are natural sources of conflict that
should be eliminated or reduced so that Mercosul may reach its plenitude."
"Ministers Vow FTAA Will Be In Place In 18 Months"
Paulo Sotero, Washington correspondent for
center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo observed (6/14): "The ministers
of foreign relations from 14 of the 34 representative democracies of the
hemisphere reconfirmed their commitment to end the negotiations that will lead
to the implementation of the FTAA in 18 months. It's not clear how they'll
accomplish that.... According to a source present at the meeting, one of the
topics discussed was the lack of understanding and popular support of the FTAA
in several countries.... Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister [Celso Amorim] said
the difference between Brasilia and Washington is that USTR Robert Zoellick
prefers an approach 'from the top to the bottom,' while the Brazilians prefer
an agreement 'from the bottom to the top.'"
"The Only Way"
Rio de Janeiro's right-of-center O Globo editorialized
(6/3): "President Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva's speech to the G-8 leaders...reveals an unexpected and welcome
maturity.... But one should note and even celebrate the attention to which the
speech was paid by those leaders - not so much for being something new but for
because it was presented by Lula. It was
clear that there's a leadership gap and that the President of Brazil is being
able to fill in this gap naturally with a sense of timing and without
ideological boasting. This moderate attitude seems to be the result the
emerging countries' acknowledgement that today they have nothing to gain
by systematic polarization inspired by
ideological beliefs.... That belongs to the past.... In this new government
(Lula's) one doesn't notice even traces of what was called the Third Way - an
easy temptation to be avoided by a president who has awoken great interest in
the entire world for his labor background and by the peaceful way he achieved
power. For instance, his harsh attack
against the protectionism of rich countries was opportune--because it was done
at the right time and place, in front of those who deserved to hear it: French
President Jacques Chirac, and U.S. President George Bush. It was timely above all because Lula used the
legitimate means of access - that of multilateral fora."
"Rejecting The FTAA Is A Sine-Qua-Non Requirement For Brazil
Rio de Janeiro's right-of-center O Globo ran a byline by
sociologist Helio Jaguaribe stating (6/3): "The process of globalization,
worsened [by] the unilateralist position of the Bush administration, takes
underdeveloped countries...and makes them undifferentiated segments of an
international market, domestically controlled by multinationals, and externally
controlled by Washington. India, China
and Russia have been saved from this destiny.... Rejecting the FTAA is a
sine-qua-non requirement for Brazil and the remaining Mercosul member countries
to become autonomous, sustainably developed countries.... Rejecting the FTAA, although a difficult
diplomatic task, has become feasible with the election of Kirchner and his
projects that coincide with those of Brazil's, within the Argentine-Brazilian
alliance to strengthen Mercosul; it depends now of how Lula's government will
act with regard to those decisive, qualifying requirements. Everything indicates he won't disappoint
"Bias From The Past"
Center-left Jornal do Brasil commented (6/2): "Robert Zoellick's brief visit to Brazil
was enough for him to understand the national feeling vis-à-vis FTAA. He said that in Brasilia, all attention there
is towards strengthening Mercosul, while in Sao Paulo they're rooting for the
success of the FTAA.... Brazil is
running the risk of becoming isolated. The U.S.' selective position towards
Latin American countries is ostensive....
In Brazil and Argentina one believes that is possible to strengthen
Mercosul first and then negotiate the FTAA.
Zoellick was consulted about an accord that would have Mercosul on one
side and on the other the U.S. But he
soon discarded the 4+1 type of accord.
Brazil has no time to waste.
Lula's administration is undergoing a spectacular moment that assures
the support of the international community.
He has demonstrated that a left, reformist government can be the best
alternative to Latin America. Lula is
strong enough to demand fair terms from Washington. Leftist rancidity belongs to the past. Brazil should stop being timid, sit down at
the table and deal with negotiating the FTAA. Now."
"With Or Without FTAA"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (6/1): "USTR
Robert Zoellick's visit to Brazil ended
with the perspective that the negotiations to create the FTAA will be
prolonged.... Brazil also wants to discuss 'sensitive' issues at the WTO....
With or without the FTAA, the industrial sector should be prepared to increase
its productivity.... The industrial chains in Brazil, if exposed to the
liberalization that will come through FTAA, would be faced with a combination
of benefits and threats.... Some of the links in [the textile industry, for
example,] are among the most competitive in the world...but there are countless
small and medium-size factories that would probably sink if exposed to the
effects of liberalization.... Mapping such realities is useful when one has in
mind the goal of developing an economic plan that would create specific
"Room Opening To An
Rio de Janeiro's right-of-center O Globo commented (5/30):
"Such [high] growth in a giant economy such as the U.S. is not sustainable
in the long term.... The economic boom occurred in the first years of NAFTA and
Mercosul...and it was natural that it strongly influenced negotiations
involving the FTAA. A lot has changed
since then; the American economy now is fighting against stagnation and the
dollar is losing value.... Within this
atmosphere the basis of the FTAA negotiations cannot be the same as during
period in which everything pointed towards a prosperous, promising
horizon. Both sides, the U.S. on one,
and Brazil and its neighbors on the other, need to come to an understanding so
that the FTAA can be in fact an opportunity, a boost capable of contributing to
sustainable development in the medium and long terms. Fearing the U.S. would impose its conditions
on Brazil, Brazil wound up by adopting a position of postponing FTAA
creation. Nevertheless, American
diplomatic initiatives are opening room to an understanding. Brazil has to know how to take advantage of
"A Smaller FTAA Is Possible"
The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo
asserted (5/30): "Brazil and the U.S. will continue the FTAA negotiations
and will try to adhere to the deadline, but they will probably have to accept
more limited results than those previously envisioned.... So far, with some creativity, an impasse has
been avoided. USTR Zoellick and Brazil's Formin Celso Amorim have agreed that
both sides will decide in which forum topics of interest to each will be
discussed. Just as the U.S. prefers to reserve certain topics for the WTO,
Brazil and its Mercosul partners may channel to this same forum some important
issues such as investment rules, government procurement, intellectual property
and services.... Currently, this seems to be a realistic decision that will
reduce obstacles to a free trade agreement involving the 34 hemispheric
democracies. This realism may also make President Lula da Silva's upcoming visit
to Washington more productive.... In Brasilia, Zoellick spoke with six
different GOB interlocutors. Did he need to speak with so many people if he was
expected to meet only one authorized interlocutor? This is something for President Lula to
"Overcoming The Impasse"
Independent Jornal da Tarde editorialized (5/30):
"There was some fear that differences between Brazil and the U.S.
regarding the FTAA could intensify and result in an impasse during USTR Robert
Zoellick's meeting with members of the Lula administration. Such differences
are in fact profound, but instead of exacerbating them, Zoellick and Formin
Celso Amorim decided that the best thing to do was to discuss them in the most
appropriate forum, which may or may not be the FTAA meetings. In this way, the
impasse was overcome.... This is the solution for the moment, and it springs
from a 'spirit of pragmatism and cooperation,' as Formin Amorim said. But this
is only half a solution, because it has yet to be decided in which forum each
sensitive topic will be discussed. And
that will not be an easy decision."
"Ambition And Fear"
Right-of-center O Globo ran a byline by economic analyst
Miriam Leitão urging (5/29): "The
Lula administration's trade diplomacy is doing some risky maneuvering. To revive Mercosul and re-establish levels of
bilateral trade is good for all countries;
to use the bloc as an excuse to delay, impair or even undermine FTAA
negotiations is not the most intelligent decision. Trade doesn't rhyme with ideology and the
best thing to do is to treat the issue with pragmatism.... The U.S. is itself
facing great contradictions with regard to FTAA negotiations, with many sectors
resisting the opening of their markets to other countries in the region.... The GOB's proposal presented this week of
exchanging FTAA negotiations for a Mercosul negotiation with the U.S., in the
so-called four plus one, was in principle rejected by USTR Robert
Zoellick. But yesterday he stated it is
possible to negotiate the 4+1 along with FTAA negotiations.... One can work in
both ways: strengthen the bloc and negotiate the FTAA in the search for rooms
for possible profits. All negotiations
are difficult, but that is why diplomats exist.
And ours have always deserved the fame of being skillful and
intelligent. Brazil occupies the
position of co-chairman in the negotiation.
This implies a responsibility to which the country cannot escape with
maneuvers and childish resistance."
"Brazil's Position Regarding The FTAA Demands Prudence"
An editorial in business-oriented Valor Economico asserted
(5/29): "There are indications that the Lula administration may adopt more
prudent behavior in the FTAA negotiations.... Brazil continues to say it is
interested in the talks and committed to defending national interests. But some decisions by its Foreign Ministry
have indicated an unnecessarily bellicose frame of mind. Brazil's objectives
may be achieved through other means that would not harm its relationships with
hemispheric partners. USTR Robert Zoellick made clear in Brasilia that the USG
does not accept one of the formulas Brazil proposed as a means of countering
the FTAA (the resumption of a 4+1 format between Mercosul and the U.S.). In
practice, however, Washington's proposal was aimed at joining Brazil, Uruguay,
Argentina and Paraguay and offering them much less than other nations in the
continent. To negotiate the FTAA does not mean surrendering to the will of the
U.S. But negotiating the FTAA according
to Brazil's interest does not mean rejecting it or hampering its
"By Negotiating, Lula May Obtain A Great Accord"
Syndicated political columnist Elio Gaspari speculated in liberal Folha
de Sao Paulo (5/28): "The greatest victory for the U.S., the IMF and
the World Bank in Latin America is called Lula.... Lula has the opportunity to
show President Bush, the IMF and the World Bank that his government is the real
proof of the pudding for Latam's transformation into a true market economy. If
he succeeds in promoting development, everyone will gain. If the stagnation he
inherited [from the previous administration] continues, with more unemployment,
everyone will lose. The opportunity Lula and his foreign policy have is to
pursue an accord aimed at creating room for Brazil's economy to grow so that it
can besaid: with the help of the USG, the IMF and the World Bank, successful
development has taken place in Brazil.... The White House and the IMF do not
need to see Brazil remain caught in a trap [constructed] by half a dozen
speculators.... The road to understanding is narrow, but it does exist."
MEXICO: "Offerings Of Smoke"
An editorial in business-oriented El
Financiero read (6/3): "If
Europe managed to incorporate basic topics like hunger, health, access to
markets, and world governance into the agenda of the world's wealthiest nations
in exchange for an anti-terrorist agreement imposed by George W. Bush, then the
attendance of a dozen developing countries –to include Mexico – was not in
vain. The exigencies to justify the war
in Iraq could have been reoriented to allow social progress and economic
recovery, even if no commitments were made in terms of monetary or currency
exchange policies.... Even if there were
no concrete results derived from the G-8 summit, Lula's proposal in favor of
access to markets to fight poverty was outstanding, because it generated the
concern for a less unequal globalization, even in the case of Bush."
CHILE: "Colin Powell's
Call to the OAS."
Chilean academic Ivan Witker stated in popular,
leading circulation La Tercera (6/12):
"Although OAS General Assemblies have never carried much weight
with respect to hemispheric multilateralism, Secretary Powell took the
opportunity at the assembly to place on the regional agenda...the promotion of
democracy in Cuba.... It was difficult
for many to envision that the pre-war pressure toward Iraq would lead to a
military operation, which is why Powell's words must be duly weighed.... However, in Cuba's case there are complex
issues.... Also, Powell's words 'produce results'...bring back memories of past
and very dramatic U.S. interventions in the region... In spite of these complications, Powell's
call will mark hemispheric relations in the coming months, because of
fundamental geopolitical changes that are taking place in the region that have
brought prominence to Chile and Mexico due to their privileged relations with
the U.S., and have brought Brazil and Argentina closer through their leaders'
sympathies toward Cuba.... Powell's
words will force emerging nations...to define their roles in the region,
especially with regard to their strategic priorities...and on whether or not to
proceed proactively in matters pertaining to democracy."
"Latin America On Bush's Agenda"
Marc Homedes held in government-controlled,
editorially independent La Nacion (6/12): "The OAS was the
launching point for a new U.S. strategy toward Latin America. The timing is no accident: with Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva and Nestor Kirchner as new occupants of government palaces in
Brazil and Argentina, the region's lukewarm reception to preventive war and
under pressure to animate the Free Trade Area of the Americas' negotiations,
George W. Bush does not want to miss the opportunity.... In Santiago, Secretary Powell met with
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim...and hours later got on a plane to
cross the Andes and meet with Kirchner....
Powell's 'tour' was to show
Amorim and Kirchner the benefits of the Chile FTA and thus provide assurance
that there is no reason to fear the FTAA....
It also shows the level of contact expected with the regional
'bloc'.... The U.S. is trying to open a
new stage in which the Chile FTA and the Central America treaty negotiations
illustrate U.S. attempts to soften 'U.S. skeptics' like Lula and Kirchner. The insistence on the Cuban issue in the OAS
permitted the U.S. to test the level of response to a sensitive issue that
Washington believes will pick up speed over the next few months with
heightening international pressure on the island's authorities."
"Signing The FTA With The United States"
An op-ed by chief FTA negotiator Osvaldo Rosales in financial El
Diario read (6/6): "Our
experience is observed with interest: A
left-of-center coalition, rigorous in macroeconomic management, is committed to
free trade and to seeking a balance between social conditions and an open
economy. This has allowed us to have
high levels of growth, modernize our productive and exporting foundations, and
drastically lower poverty, which has strengthened the link between competition
and social cohesion. We are confident
that if things are done correctly in regard to the FTA with the United States,
these tendencies will become stronger."
Financial El Diario held (6/5): "After years of negotiations, Chile will
sign a free trade agreement with the world's largest economic and political
power.... The most immediate outcome of
the agreement will be an improvement of Chile's image abroad and support for
the trade policy it has implemented for almost thirty years.... Chile will now share with Mexico the
privilege of having a trade agreement with the U.S. and for this same reason,
looks to Mexico to advise it on possible effects.... That is Chile's next challenge: it must
analyze the treaty and design mechanisms to obtain the most from the FTA."
"Signing The FTA With The United States"
Conservative, influential newspaper of record El Mercurio
stated in an editorial (5/31): "The
benefits of the FTA can be measured not just by an increase in the trade of
goods, but also by an increase in services, the growth of stable capital flows
and foreign investment, the decrease of the country's economic risk assessment,
and a better image.... The signature of
this agreement is a great accomplishment for the country and for President
Lagos' government and a new step on the path toward opening Chile's economy, a
process that began almost 30 year ago.
It will have a positive effect on growth, investment, employment and the
welfare of the population as a whole."
"Free Trade: The Latin American Side"
An editorial in popular, leading-circulation La Tercera
held (5/31): "While in Chile wide
sectors celebrated the news of the signature of the free trade agreement with
Washington, Robert Zoellick's visit to Brazil left in evidence the deep
differences that separate Brazil and the U.S. in regard to bilateral trade and
the FTAA.... The future of Latin America
is important for Chile, because if the 'neighborhood' does not improve its
macroeconomic policies, it will not be able to progress as hoped. The region must improve its competitiveness,
open its markets, and decrease state participation. The latter, however, cannot be assured in the
case of Argentina.... The feasibility of the most ambitious U.S. free trade
project is therefore uncertain. The give
and take between Washington and Brazil will determine not just the future of
the FTAA...but also the type of trade relations that will prevail in the
Conservative afternoon La Segunda ran an editorial stating
(5/28): "President Lagos has been right in congratulating Foreign Minister
Alvear on the free trade agreement with the United States. This agreement, the first with a Latin
American country, with the exception of Mexico, is a major accomplishment as
the result of a roller coaster effort begun by the Aylwin
administration.... Chile's Iraq stance
in the Security Council--which resulted from a matter of form rather than content--deeply
irked the superpower, which not only voiced its disappointment but also put the
treaty in serious peril by diplomatically freezing the announcement of the
signature of the treaty. The
highest-ranking officials in the U.S. administration have admitted this, a fact
that the U.S. ambassador in Chile tacitly acknowledged today.... This is no minor issue, because if we cannot
see what is evident...we could trip twice on the same stone. Relations with the U.S. might have a judicial
balance, but in practice these relations must abide by the harsh international
conditions that prevail today."
"FTA Has A Date"
The popular Ultimas Noticias commented in an editorial
(5/29): "The treaty, which will
strengthen exports by promoting investment and therefore increase the demand
for new jobs, is an acknowledgement of Chile's economic and institutional
"Benefits Of The FTA With U.S."
Leading financial Estrategia judged (5/29): "After more than a decade of talks, our
country will finally sign on June 6 the free trade agreement with the United
States.... Chile will thus join a select
group of nations that benefit from a trade agreement with the world's largest
and most stable economy.... If we add
the recent agreements Chile signed with the European Union and Korea, the
chances for our nation to become a platform for investment for foreign
companies that wish to install themselves in the region increase
significantly.... Everything seems to show that Chile's GDP will increase by
0.9% when the treaty takes effect.... But for this to happen it s urgent that
Chile correct economic management mistakes highlighted by Chile's fiscal
deficit over the past years. There are
many challenges and reforms to be made in order that the entire nation most fully
benefits from the FTA with the U.S."
COLOMBIA: "Trade Views And Negotiations"
An op-ed by former Minister of Treasury Abdon
Espinosa-Valderrama stated in leading El Tiempo (6/12): “Who would have thought that the confessed
author of the lessons learned in the process of opening markets a decade ago
would come back as inventor, promoter, and director of a new...version of that
ruinous experience...whether via FTAA or a bilateral trade agreement with the
U.S., (it’s) the same thing.”
"Chile Showing The Direction For Latin
An op-ed by private consultant Alberto
Schlesinger-Velez in business daily Portafolio held (6/12): “Someone
wisely said that the negotiation process on an FTA with the U.S. started with
the U.S. Secretary of Treasury’s remarks in Colombia a few months ago...he
didn’t say no. He set the starting point for negotiations.... USTR Robert
Zoellick made positive remarks at the signing ceremony of the agreement with
Chile.... He said that the step Chile was taking showed the direction for Latin
"Pros And Cons Of The FTAA"
Under the sub-heading, "Intense Controversy
Over Colombia’s Participation In A Future Trade Agreement Continues,"
Cali-based El Pais noted (6/12): “While the Minister of Trade says
agreement is favorable (to Colombia), Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo warns of
harm to the economy. This is of greater
interest following the announcement of a mission to Washington on 7 July to
negotiate the agreement.”
In an op-ed for economic La Republica,
Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Jorge H. Botero stressed
(6/11): “Official statistics estimate (Chilean) exports will increase 16
percent as a result of the (Free Trade) Agreement, which means a continued,
positive impact on their GNP of 1 percent. U.S. exports to Chile will increase
11 percent and hardly have any negative impact on their local business. That is
because the productivity apparatus of both nations is so unlike that rather
than competing, they are complementary. The same would happen to Colombian
industry...(the result) would be complementary in several areas of production;
in contrast, notorious differences remain in agriculture.”
"Tom, Jerry And The FTAA Trick"
An op-ed by journalist/writer Daniel
Samper-Pizano in top national El Tiempo held (6/11): “With a bilateral agreement, Jerry (Colombia)
loses. With FTAA, Tom (U.S.) wins. That’s because the agreement provides openings
without restrictions to our economy for multinational businesses enjoying the
protection of subsidies.”
“Top Meeting Next Week In Washington: They Insist On Agreement
Top national El Tiempo stated (6/6): “Colombian Delegates will meet with USTR
Robert Zoellick, who will visit Bogota August 7-8.... In both Washington and Bogota, Robert
Zoellick will discuss with Colombian officials the possibilities of a bilateral
agreement and obviously the FTAA. ‘In
the end, what’s important for them (the USG) and us is the achievement of our
objectives, free trade, rather than the means, FTAA or a bilateral agreement,’
said (Colombian) Minister (of Trade Jorge Humberto Botero).... A bilateral agreement isn’t incompatible with
FTAA, said Ambassador Moreno.”
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: “The Real Danger”
An op-ed by former chief editor and and former
Dominican Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Vega stated in conservative,
independent El Caribe (6/16): “Our
free trade zone sector has been the one that has pushed the most for the
government to reach a free trade agreement with the U.S., along with Central
America, under the notion that if that area obtains additional access
advantages, and we don’t, part of our clothing manufacturing would go to
Central America.... Nonetheless, despite
the fact that we might have an open door for an FTAA with the U.S. and due to
our proximity to the American Market, our sales could be reduced due to costs
and competitiveness, despite the devaluation of our currency, the peso.... But the real danger for our country is the
expiration, in less than two years, of the Multi-fiber Agreement,...under which
exist all quotas to export textiles to the U.S.... When these disappear, competitiveness, not
only of the DR, but also of Haiti, Jamaica, Central America and Mexico will be
severely damaged.... That is why we must move quickly towards textile sectors
that require fast delivery, since swiftly changing designs and complicated technology
require supervision from the U.S., in order to take advantage of the only
quality we would have: market proximity.”
And The FTAA"
An opinion column by Washington Herrera in Quito's leading
centrist El Comercio (6/17):
"Agricultural trade has always been considered separately.... It's logical then that the FTAA should also
approach agricultural trade differently....
Beyond the intrinsic difference in productivity among the FTAA
countries, there are deep disparities in agricultural policies, while rich
countries subsidize their products because they have the means to do so, poor
countries are struggling in an environment of scarce resources. To conduct trade under these conditions is
very complex because it impacts employment in rural populations.... In our
countries the reality is different, not because we are unable to subsidize
those products, but because the structural conditions under which we produce
goods are negative.... Under these
circumstances we cannot be competitive.... The government, now taking part in
FTAA negotiations in Puebla, Mexico, is already exchanging lists of exports and
imports where we hope we can consolidate export potential for products where we
have a high degree of productivity, and that we prepare to compete in new
viable products and clearly exclude clearly those very sensitive products where
open markets might cause a high index of unemployment in the Ecuadorian
"Andean States In Crisis"
An editorial in Quito's leading centrist El Comercio
(6/15): "The contrast between Chile
and the other Andean countries is now at is highest level since the time of
Independence. After the signing of the
Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., the lone star...is making economic progress
while the other nations...are living in one of the most disconcerting times of
their history.... Andean
countries...live in a dangerous political climate with little communication;
they lack the ability to reach effective consensus, but rather each pursues
separately a solution to today's serious problems, hoping that the Chile's fate
will be repeated and each of them will end up benefiting from a Free Trade
Agreement. In the meantime, however,
their anguished peoples may assault institutions and in desperation start down
the path to anarchy, from which there is no return."
"Free Trade: Chile And The U.S."
An opinion column by Washington Herrera in Quito's leading
centrist El Comercio (6/10): "Why is Chile in a position to sign
these accords unlike other countries in the region? Because Chile prepared twenty years ago by
strengthening its export sector and opening up to the world.... Chilean consumers will be able to buy
products at better prices. This will contribute to the fight against inflation,
but limits any growth in manufactured goods based on domestic markets and
diminishes the quality of economic development by concentrating export
possibilities on products with little aggregate value.... Ecuador could not
sign such an accord because its tariffs are too high and Ecuadorian
productivity, especially in agricultural goods, has structural weaknesses. In addition, the fiscal sacrifice of a tariff
reduction would have to be offset by other income that would be difficult to
accept. On the other hand, Ecuador has
had for the last ten years what Chile lacks, an open market with the U.S. by
virtue of the Andean Trade Preference Act, whose potential has not been
exploited in its entirety due to inertia and the lack of efficient export promotion
policies.... The best agreement for
Ecuador would require the U.S. to extend preferences indefinitely while we
expand our markets by increasing exports."
Hernan Perez Loose observed in Guayaquil's (and Ecuador's) leading
center-right El Universo (6/10): "During the dramatic days prior to
the war in Iraq, the U.S. eagerly sought a UNSC resolution authorizing the
armed removal of Hussein's regime. That
strategy failed because member states like Chile made public their opposition
to armed intervention...it was taken for granted that the U.S. would not sign
the agreement with Chile as a means of reprisal.... That did not happen, however.... The path traveled by Chile has not been
easy. The country has suffered
political, financial, banking, inflationary, economic, and military crises even
more serious that the ones suffered by Ecuador.
How could such a tormented country overcome those crises and reach its
current position? Part of the answer lies in the vision of its leadership, in
the stability of its public policies and, above all, in the long-term vision
that inspires its leaders when they discuss subjects such as public education,
competition, social security, and the legal system.... Colombia...is pursuing a similar
agreement.... Meanwhile, Ecuador is
still asleep, stuck as usual."
An opinion column by Hernan Perez Loose in Guayaquil's (and
Ecuador's) leading centrist El Universo stated (5/14): "During his recent trip to Washington,
President Uribe emphasized Colombia's desire to sign as early as possible a
bilateral trade agreement similar to those the U.S. negotiated recently with
Chile and Singapore.... Curiously, the
U.S. reaction to Uribe's request was lukewarm.
The Bush Administration vaguely suggested that it preferred to see the
FTAA become a reality. But Colombia's
insistence has been such that the White House agreed to send a mission to
Bogota to study the request.... Uribe's
request is the final thrust of the sword for the ridiculous Andean Community of
Nations (CAN), the successor of the legendary and failed Andean Pact.... If Colombia has chosen the path of economic
bilateralism, the least it could have done is send us a farewell letter.... Colombia's decision is definitely based on national
interests. That is fine. That is what the leader of a nation is there
for, to defend the interests of his country.
Another is Ecuador's reality....
The few times somebody suggested that Ecuador should negotiate bilateral
trade agreements, especially with the U.S., leaving behind the Andean
arrangement, that somebody was dubbed as traitor and even as ignorant. What are they going to say now that
Colombia....has decided to close the book on regional integration and pursue
the path of bilateralism?... It is
difficult to admit, but the integrationist proposal always was a skilled and
seductive trap laid by the economic interests of our neighbors."
"Position On The FTAA"
A front-page editorial in Quito's center-left Hoy judged
(5/3): "Although it is making slow progress, the deadline for launching
the FTAA is January 2005. However, in
Ecuador's case, the government has yet to explain the country's position on
negotiations to join the FTAA....
Integration into a global market implies reconciling divergent
interests. Under present circumstances, to open markets indiscriminately may
deepen even more the differences between the U.S. economy and those in Latin
America still struggling to come out of recession.... Adverse regional and local conditions require
even more intensive efforts to face the challenge of integration. Ecuador is racing against the
clock....greater productivity and development of competitiveness are basic
prerequisites for joining the FTAA."
PANAMA: “U.S.-Chile FTA”
An editorial in conservative El Panama
America stated (6/12): “The signing of the first free trade agreement of
the United States with a Latin country...is of great importance because...it
ends the myth that, under President Bush’s Republican administration, the U.S.
was growing apart from its commitment to Latin America.… It also shows that the
differences existing between the two countries caused by the war in Iraq were
overcome.… Chile is the prototype for the open economic model that the U.S.
wishes to promote.… Obviously, we should not only look at the Chilean
agreement. We should also be watching
the negotiations taking place with the same purpose with the Central American
countries...that should end this year.”
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: "Shadow Over FTAA"
The Business Section of the sensationalist Newsday
carried an article by Special Correspondent, Linda Hutchinson-Jafar stating
(6/12): "The Caracas-based Latin
American Economic System, commonly known by its Spanish acronym SELA, has
raised questions about the U.S. commitment to the FTAA process. This, in the
context of the lack of support the U.S. received by the majority of countries
in the western hemisphere in their military action against Iraq. SELA said it is possible that these latest
events will further encourage the United States to concentrate its FTAA
negotiations on specific partners, rather than entire regions.... SELA believes that the decision of four
Central American countries to join the 'coalition of the willing' may have also
enhanced their position in the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations
with Washington.... SELA also talked about pressure on the Caribbean Community
which did not join the 'coalition of the willing' and cited the possible
backlash on trade that small countries could feel from the U.S.
"Making 'Gouti' Tracks"
David Abdulah commented in sensationalist Newsday
(6/1): "Given that the FTAA is projected to come on stream in 2005, and
since we are simultaneously involved in three major international trade processes--FTAA,
the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Union-African, Pacific and
Caribbean (EU-ACP)post-Lome--at the same time that we are seeking to make the
Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) a reality, the entire country,
indeed the entire Caribbean should be well informed and aware of the
implications of these processes....
These 'trade' agreements firstly involve much more than just trade. They really seek to totally incorporate all
economies in to a single economy--the FTAA to involve 34 countries in this
hemisphere, the WTO the entire world.
But this incorporation is to be on the basis of one set of rules for ALL
countries, regardless of size or stage of economy development. This is akin to asking a fly-weight boxer to
get into the same ring with a super-heavyweight.... Little doubt therefore that those of us who
argue against these processes view them as just another imperial strategy for
maintaining multinational corporation (MNC) control of the global economy. After all, more than 60 percent of world
trade is intro-multinational company trade and not trade between
countries. The FTAA and WTO are designed
to make tracks for the MNC's goutis to run."
GERMANY: "Signals Of Détente"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine argued (6/10):
"Only at first inspection, Secretary Powell's trip to the OAS meetings
seems to be routine. Since the last
meeting on Barbados, relations between the two Americas have considerably
deteriorated. Before the end of last
year, the foreign ministers signed an agreement, which was supposed to place
cooperation in the fight against terrorism on a new foundation. But then Mexico and Chile refused to support
the United States in the UNSC in the Iraq crisis.... Since then, fears have not gone away that
both countries have to pay a price for their view. In the case of Mexico, this still seems to be
the case, while the long overdue free trade agreement with Chile was signed
shortly before Powell's departure. It
would be favorable for all sides involved if this were not the only sign of
détente, for the North cannot be interested in more countries standing at the
economic (Argentina, Uruguay), social (Bolivia, Haiti), and political