July 30, 2003
THE AMERICAS: KIRCHNER, LULA U.S. VISITS REKINDLE REGIONAL TRADE TALKS
** At the recent
Kirchner-Bush and Lula-Bush summits, the leaders "set aside their
differences" and showed a "deepened cooperation" in both the
bilateral and regional arenas.
** President Kirchner's
White House visit created an "opportunity not to be missed."
** President Lula's support
for FTAA is a "major advance," but Brazil "expects effective
** Skeptics regard joining
the accord a "dilemma," talk of an "FTAA lite" sows
Kirchner-Bush 'rapprochement' opens a 'new stage' in
U.S.-Argentine relations-- Prior to the summit,
Argentine dailies were pessimistic, citing Kirchner's lack of
"enthusiasm" for the FTAA, as evidence that the Kirchner and Bush
"agendas do not have too many points in common." While the meeting avoided subjects of
"disagreement," it served to "dispel uncertainty" about
Kirchner and reestablished an "open dialogue" between Buenos Aires
and Washington. Bush's
"support" lends Kirchner leverage in the next round of IMF
negotiations. Papers warned Kirchner,
however, not to squander the "unique opportunity" for needed
reforms. A "fluent and
political" dialogue with the U.S., leading daily-of-record La Nacion
cautioned, does not "exempt us from observing austere and responsible
It's time to negotiate 'without fear'-- FTAA talks are beginning
to take on a "new direction."
Argentine and Brazilian dailies were encouraged by the U.S.' willingness
to negotiate with Mercosur. Brazilian dailies
attributed the "progress" to the "maturity" of Brazilian
diplomacy. Relieved that "common
sense" had prevailed over the "old" leftist "anti-U.S.
complex," independent Jornal da Tarde declared "there is no
doubt that a trade alliance" with "our most important buyer, the
U.S., would be beneficial to the Brazilian economy." Dailies in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia
concurred the FTAA is "the best opportunity" for Latin America. While Buenos Aires's leading Clarin
found it "significant" that Lula "agreed with Bush" to
conclude FTAA negotiations in 2005, liberal Folha de Sao Paulo chided
Lula for "surrendering without a fight," which put Brazil in the
"same position as Honduras" when it comes to negotiating.
Joining FTAA remains a 'dilemma'-- Naysayers in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia,
Ecuador, Canada and the Caribbean reaffirmed misgivings about the FTAA
"threat," but also faulted regional governments for lacking "a
common vision." Mercosur and Andean
writers backed Brazil's proposal to "negotiate as a bloc" to
establish more "equitable" conditions. Others scorned the so-called "FTAA
lite" proposal since a "scaled-down" version risked being
"devoid of content." With an
eye on the "Chilean model," Colombian papers favored a
"bilateral path" over an FTAA.
Quito's leading El Comercio by contrast held that bilateral
negotiations "are not useful,"
because with "the pressure...we will end up caving in to everything
the U.S. asks for."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report
is based on 56 reports from 11 countries, June 19-July 29. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
Meeting With Bush"
Daily-of-record La Nacion editorialized (7/25): "The summit between Presidents George W.
Bush and Nestor Kirchner in Washington has left an opportunity that should not
be missed by Argentina.... The USG's
support expressed for Argentina...should not lead us to think that the dealings
with the IMF can be mixed or confused with the progress exclusively made in the
U.S.-Argentina bilateral relationship....
We should not believe that a fluent political and diplomatic dialogue
(with the U.S.) would exempt us from observing austere and responsible economic
behavior.... There are some other juicy
issues in the U.S.-Argentina bilateral agenda that should be developed in the
immediate future. For instance, trade
issues, among which we should include the progressive inclusion of Argentine
products to the GPS; the evolution of the Colombian situation; the threat posed
by narcotrafficking; and the claims for control and surveillance in the Triple
Border. Also, the decisive and strategic
issue of our approach to the FTAA."
"According To The White House, It Was A 'Great
Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La
Nacion, observed (7/24): "According to the White House, Presidents
Nestor Kirchner and George W. Bush's yesterday's meeting was 'a great
encounter' in which 'they were impressed about their rapid understanding and
their direct and frank dialogue.' When Bush received Kirchner along with
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Treasury Secretary John Snow, National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and USTR Robert Zoellick, it was made clear
the special importance assigned to the encounter. And it was also an advance of the issues to
be discussed during the meeting: the bilateral relationship, the importance of
the war on terrorism and of the economic growth of the whole region, and the
future of FTAA negotiations."
"Argentine Government Believes The Pressure Over FTAA
Political columnist Jorge Elias remarked in daily-of-record La
Nacion (7/23): "Some sectors of
the Argentine government believe the pressures from some U.S. sectors over the
FTAA negotiations are not directed at Argentina, but at Brazil.... However,
Brazil is co-chairing the negotiations with the United States, and George W.
Bush received Lula in the White House before Kirchner.... All of which has not served to soften the
criticism from an unidentified USG member who has said he expected a more
active role to be played by Brazil and Argentina at the FTAA Trading Negotiating
Committee in El Salvador.... From the
political viewpoint, some have warned that the U.S. conveys contradictory
signs: it speaks of proposals by blocs, like Mercosur, while 'it bilateralizes
the negotiation process.'"
"The Argentine Government Will Ask The White House Not To
Marcelo Bonelli, economic columnist for leading Clarin,
opined (7/22): "President Nestor Kirchner will seek the White House's
political support so that the deal being negotiated with the IMF will not
suffocate Argentina's tenuous economic growth.
In other words, Kirchner will try to get George W. Bush's blessing on an
agreement maintaining the current fiscal surplus and avoiding a larger surplus
as wanted by the IMF experts, which could imply a new fiscal adjustment. In this way, (Kirchner) would obtain
different support from that obtained by Lula. Brazil obtained Washington's
support in exchange for a growing fiscal surplus to increase the payment on its
foreign debt. This commitment has sparked recession in Brazil.... To obtain the
White House's support, Kirchner will have to define Argentina's economic
direction and a sustainable economic program to achieve growth."
"It Is Hard For Argentina To Make Bush's Agenda"
Business-financial Ambito Financiero ran an opinion piece
by Eugenio Andrea Bruno asserting (7/22): "Argentina has no issue
appearing on Washington's agenda. The USG's interest in Argentina (minimal) is
collective, not individual, and it is related to the FTAA. But if Argentina abandons the FTAA, nothing
could happen to the U.S.... There is
also interest in knowing what the government will do to stop harming U.S.
companies' interests in the aftermath of the 2001 crisis.... What is Kirchner's position vis-à-vis this challenge?
First, he has said he does not favor a Menem-styled strategic alliance with the
U.S. Second, he has expressly criticized not only Washington's liberal economic
policies but also the underlying philosophy.
He has not said firm progress will be made in implementing pending
substantial structural reforms.... He has also said Argentina will not
participate in peace missions in Iraq and his position in favor of Castro is
publicly known.... On trade, he has not expressed enthusiasm regarding the FTAA....
Seemingly, Kirchner's and Bush's agendas do not have too many points in
common.... One could conclude it will not be easy to obtain concrete trade,
financial and political benefits out of the relationship with the U.S. while
Kirchner and Bush are simultaneously in power."
"Samba, Tango And More"
Martin Granovsky judged in left-of-center Pagina 12
(7/16): "Other than Chile and
Brazil, Kirchner made his first important trip to Europe and not the
U.S.... Kirchner didn't 'marry' Europe,
with which he discussed utility fees, but it was clear that he didn't want to
'wed' the U.S. Is seems that the President has decided to use Europe not only
as a partner for Argentina but also as a collective world power capable of
compensating U.S. influence and giving Argentina margin for maneuvering....
Lula and Kirchner may think anything of each other. Brazil may be jealous of Argentina and
Argentina may feel the same about Brazil.
But if they turn their differences into deep controversy, the world will
end up swallowing them."
"The U.S. Is Concerned With Argentina's Position On The
Jorge Elias averred in daily-of-record La Nacion's
political columnist (7/15): "Beyond President Kirchner's decision to
prioritize Mercosur, thereby strengthening the country's strategic alliance
with Lula's Brazil or the other way round, the Bush administration has leaked
some objections due to President Kirchner's position on the FTAA, or...due to
his willingness to carry out negotiations prior to year 2005 through Mercosur. Not individually, country by country.... Washington does not seem to have conceived a
unanimous opinion on the Kirchner administration yet, but it has reservations
about the measures he adopted. This is to say, there is a feeling in Washington
that Kirchner is building power. Nevertheless, some (Washington's concerns)
are judicial security and transparency of the judicial system, as expressed by
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Kirchner.... Amb. Lauredo...said 'the U.S. will not
negotiate with blocs like Mercosur or the Andean Pact. One should read the
documents (of the Summit of the Americas) and also the small print. It is not
the U.S. who opposed this, but the 34 countries participating in summits. Why,
then, should we negotiate with blocs? The answer is that this process is
voluntary.' Lauredo meant 'take it or leave it.'"
"According To The White House, Lula Should Be The Leader Of
Luis Esnal opined in daily-of-record La Nacion (7/11): "Washington and Brasilia live today the
best moment in recent years, and George W. Bush and Lula have a close and
friendly relationship. After years of
ideological criticism of the U.S., when taking power Lula showed the best
willingness in negotiations among recent Brazilian presidents.... Yesterday, in an interview with the Brazilian
newspaper Valor Economico, U.S. ambassador Hrinak said that what Brazil
pursues today 'is exactly the same the U.S. seeks: a democratic region, free
markets, more balance and social justice.'...
The U.S. diplomat confirmed the strategy perceived since the first days
of the PT government: Brazil expects the U.S. to play the financing role
Germany had in Europe during the initial conformation of the EU. In return for this support, Brazil would
agree to negotiate the creation of the FTAA.
It would be a confirmation that the FTAA is inevitable but also that
Washington must contribute to the region's development.... These statements of alliance and affinity
between the U.S. and Brazil took place one day after president Kirchner
criticized Lula for having 'got too close to the U.S.'"
"Now The U.S. Accepts Negotiating Mercosur As A Bloc"
Ana Baron, leading Clarin Washington-based correspondent,
stated (6/24): "During their meeting in Washington last week, Lula and
Bush promised to do everything in their power to end FTAA negotiations by
January 2005, and they also made clear that Mercosur will negotiate as a
bloc. Although, initially, the U.S.
always distrusted Mercosur deeply, the Bush administration finally ended
yielding to reality. Not only will the
U.S. negotiate with Mercosur certain FTAA regulations--such as the mechanisms
aimed at solving disputes and original rules--but also, the access to markets. In fact, the U.S. divided its offer to
dismantle tariffs into three parts: one for the Caribbean, another one for
Andean countries and finally, another one for Mercosur. This is what they call the 'hemisphere at
three speeds. 'However, Washington keeps
refusing to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Mercosur, such as the one it
negotiated with Chile.... The fact that Lula agreed with Bush on the idea that
FTAA negotiations must conclude in 2005 is significant, because Brazil was one
of the toughest countries: on more than one occasion, Brasilia threatened that
if farm subsidies weren't included in these negotiations it wouldn't even
consider sitting down at the table.... The new focus says that the most
controversial issues--such as farm subsidies, intellectual property rights and
anti-dumping rights--won't be negotiated in the framework of FTAA but at the
"'Our Relationship With The US Will Surprise The World,' Said
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin
observed (6/21): "They could not have come from more separate political
and social backgrounds. However, in the meeting they held at the White House,
President George W. Bush and Lula once again underscored the points that unite
them and left disagreement aside. Yesterday's summit had an additional
ingredient: Brazil became a first-level U.S. interlocutor on world issues, not
only bilateral issues.... Taking into account the joint communiqué they signed
at the end of the meeting at the White House, their rapprochement is more than
circumstantial.... Lula and Bush created
seven high-level consultation groups, which deepens the cooperation between the
two countries, not only in the bilateral and regional field, but also in the
"Lula Visits Bush At The White House"
Ana Baron, leading Clarin Washington-based correspondent,
wrote (6/20): "During today's meeting at the White House, Presidents Bush
and Lula have decided to set aside their differences and will try to set an
agenda of coincidences at a bilateral and hemispheric level. Analysts consulted by Clarin agree that the
meeting will strengthen the bilateral relationship but may also thwart the
expectations generated in Brazil and the hemisphere.... Not even the controversial trade issue has a
key place in the agenda, despite U.S. interest.... Lula became Washington's 'favorite and spoilt
child', like Menem was in the 90's, but for different reasons... Lula is now an
example of how you can combine fiscal orthodoxy with social development....
(However) Lula's domestic margin for maneuvering is rapidly going down.
Criticism multiplies and now a new and very difficult stage begins in which,
undoubtedly, the IMF will have key weight. This is the framework of today's
"Leading Case: Moving Away From Powell, Siding With
Jorge Elias maintained in daily-of-record La Nacion (6/18):
"The rift in South America is so big that, in view of the sensation that
the Bush administration has overlooked the depth of the crisis -- beginning
with Argentina as leading case -- a new generation of presidents, more
pragmatic than leftist...wants to strengthen itself at home and in the
neighborhood, in order to play in the major leagues later. This means
negotiating FTAA as a bloc, not individually.
This is why Lula and Kirchner believe that the Mercosur Summit - which
they are attending as presidents -- is so important.... Now they are
concentrating on copying the EU model: common currency and common Parliament,
and in emergencies, promoting exports and shared infrastructure projects,
between Brazil and Argentina, with the other active Mercosur members (Uruguay
and Paraguay) or with its associates (Chile and Bolivia.) The fact that Chile is part of a Free Trade
Agreement with the U.S., Canada and Mexico is somewhat disrupting."
BRAZIL: "No Plebiscite"
Right-of-center O Globo reflected (7/21): "Will the
creation of an immense free trade market from Canada to the Patagonia with a
foreseeable timetable be of interest to the poor? In principle yes, without a doubt: the
circulation of products is per se the source of wealth and prosperity. Or would it only be another U.S. hegemonic
project? It's also possible. To prevent that from happening weaker
countries should negotiate in a bloc.
The advantages of the FTAA to Brazilians depends on the negotiating
skills of our leaders, congressmen and experts.
And on their comprehension of reality: The questions are so complex that
the document creating FTAA still has seven thousand pending items. The formula
to overcome such difficulties is a routine in representative democracies:
comprehensive public debates, the seriousness of politicians on negotiations
and the competence of experts will grant the necessary technical support. All that, if possible, seasoned with
"A Necessary Debate"
Congressman Henrique Fontana (PT) asserted in right-of-center O
Globo (7/21): "If approved the
proposal (FTAA) will impact the lives of us all in the continent. Nevertheless, most of society knows
practically nothing about it. That's why
it's urgent that a comprehensive, qualified debate on the issue be carried
out.... The timetable of FTAA debates
foresees the conclusion of negotiations by 2005. The GOB defends the need to make this term
flexible, considering the issue's high degree of complexity. Terms should not prevail over content: after all, it's the future of our economy
that is at stake here. Under the current
terms the accord may worsen the foreign dependence that has weakened Brazil in
the last decades. So we stress the
importance to make public the possible consequences of this accord that involves
large sectors of society, through a long, informative, democratic debate
leading to a plebiscite to decide on whether or not to sign the accord. My bill aims precisely to guarantee the
society's participation on the decision.
Let's call to mind that many countries in the European Union have had
plebiscites to decide on the entrance to the bloc and on the adoption of a
common currency. It's a democratic
safeguard totally legitimate and justified.
After all, it's the lives of generations that is at stake."
"Lula Faces A Scaled-Down FTAA And The UNSC"
Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized
(7/18): "Possibly impressed by the
fact that he was listened to with apparent attention, President Lula da Silva
has publicly stated that his ideas are beginning to gain credence in the
international fora he has visited.... The most Lula has received for his plan
to make Brazil a permanent member of the UN's Security Council are
demonstrations of support from leaders such as Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac
(but significantly, not from George W. Bush). Such a possibility is remote....
Without U.S. support, nothing will happen at the UN. And everything indicates
that the U.S. has no intention of offering five other nations the right to
prevent proposals made in its national interest from being approved by the
Council.... Despite being creative, the idea of a scaled-down FTAA has little
chance of success because it does not meet the needs of the U.S. or those of
most smaller nations in the Americas. If no relevant subject is included in its
agenda, the FTAA will run the risk of becoming not just scaled-down but devoid
of content, and consequently superfluous."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized
(7/14): "The effects of NAFTA on Mexico have been increasingly criticized.
Instead of [symbolizing] the entry of a poor nation into a privileged circle of
trade relations with its neighbor, what happened was the flight of companies
that, despite physical proximity to the U.S. market, have opted for
transferring their production lines to regions where salaries are even
lower.... Today, half of the Mexican population still lives in poverty.... It
is imperative to learn the lessons of this Mexican drama, especially now that
the GOB is signaling its adherence to the FTAA timetable aimed at by the
"FTAA: Opportunity Or Threat?"
Former Foreign Minister Luize Felip Lampreia opined in
right-of-center O Globo (7/10):
"Ten years after having joined NAFTA more than half of the Mexican
people are still living in poverty.
Statistics also indicate that Mexican enterprises have not been able to
increase their productivity. That has
caused Mexico to be surpassed by China as the second largest exporter to the
U.S. So it has vanished the idea that
joining NAFTA would be sufficient to resume economic growth.... [I]t's
important to keep in mind that U.S. tariffs are the lowest in the world. Therefore, FTAA will very unlikely represent
great progress in this area. The GOB is
conducting the issue seriously. Breaking
with FTAA without knowing what its final contents would have been a great mistake
that would isolate Brazil even within Mercosul.
To maintain the dialogue and persist on negotiations looking for more
limited formulas to protect our interests, seems to be the most convenient
position though not deprived of risks.
The U.S. would have to be more sensitive to understand that a radical
FTAA without comprehension and depth would not only be inconvenient but also
politically unfeasible to Brazil. It remains to be seen whether the focus of
discussions on access to markets and tariffs - as claimed by the GOB - will not
increase the pressure for greater opening concessions from our part."
"The Possible FTAA"
Brazilian Formin Celso Amorim stressed in liberal Folha de Sao
Paulo (7/8): "Brazil's main
interest in negotiating the FTAA lies in the expectation of access to the U.S.
market. It is a matter of finding the
appropriate balance between our goals and the necessity of not jeopardizing our
capacity to plan and carry out social development, environmental and
technological policies, among others....
Such a posture--obviously subject to some adjustments in the negotiation
process--may be described this way: 1) topics related to market access of goods
and, in a limited way, to services and investments, would be treated in 4+1
negotiations between Mercosul and the U.S.; 2) the FTAA process would focus on
some basic elements such as conflict resolution, as well as special and
differentiated treatment for developing nations; 3) more sensitive topics that
would entail greater obligations for Brazil, such as the normative aspects of
IPR, services, investments and government procurement, would be transferred to
the WTO, as the U.S. has advocated in relation to those topics it considers
sensitive, such as agricultural subsidies and anti-dumping policies.... Instead of becoming entangled in unrealistic
ideas about what the FTAA should be, a consensus on which appears unattainable,
we prefer to focus on 'a possible FTAA' that reconciles in the most productive
way the necessarily different goals of the 34 nations involved."
University professor Ricardo Velez Rodriguez
stated in independent Jornal da Tarde (7/1): “The fact that President Lula [in the meeting
with President Bush] has supported Brazil’s entry in the FTAA is a major
advance…. There is no doubt that a trade alliance with a bloc, which includes
our most important buyer, the U.S., is beneficial to the Brazilian
economy. It is an auspicious fact to see
that the old anti-U.S. complex emotionally explored for decades by the leftists
in Brazil and in the other Latam nations has been overcome. It seems that common sense has finally
prevailed at least in this specific point.... The fact that the GOB admits to
negotiating Brazil’s entry in the FTAA is a great advance.... It has become
clear that Brazil’s entry in the FTAA is indispensable if we want to place our
products in the international markets under better conditions.”
Center-left Jornal do Brasil noted
(7/1): "Discussions over the FTAA
are beginning to take on new directions.
Preconceptions start to fall and, in their place, mature, consistent
analyses are emerging.... It's time to negotiate without fear. Brazil is standing before a unique
opportunity to close a trade accord that has its profile. In recent years a huge political and economic
gap was opened between Europe and the U.S.
While the Europeans give priority to the dream of uniting the old
continent from the Azores to Siberia, the Americans who have 30% of the world
GNP do everything to impose themselves as the 21st century's great power. For that they need pillars of regional
stability. In Latin America only Brazil
can accomplish this goal. Lula's Brazil
is very important to Bush's United States.
They are the opposites that meet.
About 50% of the Latin American market spins out of the Brazilian
economy, which is what guarantees a safe ground. The White House has bet on the PT
government. However, even if it doesn't
reduce barriers against steel and orange juice, the U.S. will have to make
concessions. Sympathetic nods and winks
are not enough: Brazil expects effective
"FTAA: Reason And Emotion"
Federal Congresswoman, Zulaiê Cobra noted in center-left Jornal
do Brasil (6/30): " Brazil's
current dilemma is to be or not to be a part of the FTAA, as if the question
were only about this childish duality.....
The success of the FTAA...depends on pre-established rules for the
behavior of the participants. They
should be clear enough to prevent disguised protectionism.... The FTAA can be established at the beginning
of 2005, gathering together a giant market composed of 800 million people from
34 countries. Brazil has little time to improve its qualifications and enter
this community.... It's urgent that Brazil also turn its efforts towards
internal market development.... The
country has to get out of the high interest rate trap, and be able to offer
loans at tolerable costs. This can only
be obtained in a financially regulated or competitive sector. The atmosphere of the Brazilian financial
system has oligopolistic traits--fruit of years of a spoils system. The most important task to make Brazil even
more apt to participate in the FTAA or any other international association is
the organization of a financial market, with the consequential resumption of economic
An op-ed in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo stated (6/26):
"The Lula-Bush summit was, indeed, a landmark. In a couple of hours, the
Brazilian president surrendered to the deadline demanded by Washington without
even putting up a fight for the extension of the deadline until 2007.... Using three paragraphs, Lula threw all the
political strategy created for the great FTAA battle out the window and put
Brazil in the same position as Honduras when it comes to negotiating.... [The so-called]
'FTAA lite' is a disguise covering the decision to shape the FTAA without
touching U.S subsidies and antidumping laws....
Ambassador Donna Hrinak stated she was 'impressed with the convergence
of points of view' between Lula and Bush....
Lula bragged that he and Bush will 'surprise the world'...and Chancellor
Celso Amorim said the meeting 'made history.'
Of course, all of them are right."
"Lula's Risky And Ingenious Tactic For The FTAA"
Business-oriented Valor Econômico
editorialized (6/25): "Lula's administration seems to have found an
intelligent formula to solve the impasse it faces regarding the Free Trade Area
of the Americas (FTAA), the [so called] 'FTAA lite'.... Lula's strategy may
face obstacles. There are no guarantees the U.S or the other nations of the
hemisphere will agree with 'FTAA lite.'....
Besides, it will be hard for the [members of the current administration
who are] former opponents of the project to convince their followers that they
have not changed their minds. And
there's the problem of the real utility of a 'light FTAA.'... It's necessary to wait for the next moves of
the main players (especially the U.S.) to see what will come out of this
"Brazi Vs. The U.S."
Right-of-center O Globo asserted
(6/25): "It's extremely unlikely
that...the U.S. will end its asymmetric, protectionist measures.... Thus,
Brazil either enters the FTAA or accepts it with ostensibly inferior
conditions, irreversibly jeopardizing its historical destiny.... If the U.S. met all Brazilian claims
regarding the FTAA, our acceptance of it would consist of suppressing
Mercosul. Such a situation is
necessarily the result of the fact that the elimination of customs barriers--the
core of the FTAA--would lead to the suppression of common foreign tariff -
which represents the core of Mercosul.
Therefore, what's at stake is what Mercosul means to us. So, what matters to us is the following question:
what type of Mercosul are we talking about? It's in view of this crucial
question that our Southern front policy should be oriented. It's about determining--in an irreversible
manner--the measure in which Argentina may accept the formation of a solid,
strategic alliance with Brazil, and consequently, a firm, comprehensive consolidation
of Mercosul. It's also about the
benefits that Brazil is disposed to guarantee to Argentina and Mercosul, within
an intelligent understanding both economic and political, of our long-term
interests. If a well-conducted policy in
the South leads to...a great Argentine-Brazilian understanding, then both
countries should renounce the FTAA."
"A Two-Way Street"
Right-of-center O Globo stated in its
editorial (6/23): "Accepting the
[FTAA] agenda at the meeting with President Bush, Lula has reaffirmed the
maturity of Brazilian diplomacy. The
project for the creation of this economic bloc is strategic and cannot be
ignored. Brazilians and Americans have
conflicts vis-à-vis FTAA. That's natural
in the relations of sovereign nations. It's about negotiating in search of a
best possible accord for all.... The first cards the U.S put on the table were
not of interest to Brazil.... In
response to that the Brazilians threatened to transfer issues of priority for the
U.S. (such as the legislation of intellectual property rights) to the WTO. And this is how one is going to find out each
side's moves. What would be wrong, a
priori, is to refuse beforehand discussing the creation of an economic bloc
with a GNP of US$13 trillion for some 800 millions of people. To export is a matter of survival for the
Brazilian economy. And through this
two-way street, international trade is moved by skill and error between
countries and enterprises. Not to
negotiate is to renounce to the world."
"Brazil And U.S. Beyond The Symbolism Of The Summits"
An editorial in business-oriented Valor Econômico held
(6/23): "In order to know if the meeting between presidents Lula and Bush
really represents a turning point in the bilateral relationship and in
Brazilian diplomatic history it is necessary to wait and see what will result
from the talks between the ministers concerned with the FTAA process (and also
at WTO), the Colombian and Venezuelan political crisis, South American physical
and infra-structure plans, the outcome of the trade impasses between Brazil and
the U.S. and the future status of Cuba in the hemispheric community, an issue
not mentioned in the talks between Lula and Bush."
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo editorialized (6/21):
"One cannot deny that Brazil has been receiving special attention
from the White House.... This shows that the USG has accepted Brazil's
opposition to the U.S intervention in Iraq and it also acknowledges the role of
leadership Brazil plays in South America.... President Lula made it clear that
Brazil wants to expand trade and investments with the U.S.... Both presidents
did not refrain from discussing controversial issues in the bilateral
relationship, such as the FTAA, but they preferred to build a positive agenda
for the future. And in that, they succeeded."
"The Meeting Between Lula And Bush"
Independent afternoon Jornal da Tarde held (6/21):
"Other results from this meeting are yet to be known. But the minimum that
can be said now is that an environment of understanding and opening of channels
between the two countries has been created. This certainly is very good for
Center-left Jornal do Brasil (6/21): "The relationship between the Americas'
two largest countries cannot be reduced to the limits of the FTAA. It's much
more comprehensive. To Brazil, the U.S.
is a natural course due to the importance it enjoys. The partnerships with Latin American
neighbors may and should be strengthened. But the greater horizon of the
Brazilian industry is the U.S. market.
On its side, the U.S. has to be very careful with the pillars
maintaining the Latin American political, economic stability. And Brazil is the
main one, much ahead of Mexico. If
Brazil goes bad, good part of the region will be dragged by its crisis. The
official agenda apart, the two Presidents' meeting was very important. If
there's a chemistry bringing Lula and Bush together, so much the better for the
future of the continent."
"'Lula Is Becoming Washington's Spoiled
Political commentator Tereza Cruvinel, in
right-of-center O Globo held (6/21): "On the Lula/Bush meeting the
Argentine daily 'Clarin' made this interesting diagnosis yesterday: 'Lula is
becoming Washington's spoiled child, as Menem was in the nineties, but for
different reasons. Menem was the
paradigm of economic reforms claimed by the IMF. Now Lula is the example of how one can put
fiscal orthodoxy and social development together.'... Analyzing the characteristics and
contradictions of Lula's administration, the political scientist Walder de Goes
compares it to a rare political animal difficult to be classified according to
official categories. When and where it's
least expected he surprises us. If
Lula's prophecy made to Bush is to be fulfilled (i.e., 'we may surprise the
world,') at least one part of the Brazilian tiny little world will in fact be
surprised. Mainly the left part, which
was betting on conflict in relations.
Thus far, Lula's foreign policy had a unanimity, approved even by
critics to the left of the PT. A new
relationship with the U.S. may break that.
Lula continues to be the new wind blowing over the continent.... He in fact surprises some and scares
CANADA: "Seek Far East
Trade Links, Not South American"
John D. Wiebe commented in the leading Globe
and Mail (6/23): "Canada is
facing some tough choices about the level of its trade dependence on the United
States as security and foreign policy issues begin to raise doubts about our
long-term freedom to ship goods relatively unhindered across the U.S. border.... There may be good reasons for expanding
Canadian trade with South America, but most of them are political, rather than
economic. Fragile democracies in countries like Argentina, Venezuela or Peru
certainly need the opportunities offered by expanded trade to generate the
economic growth necessary to fight poverty and underpin stability. But the region does not offer much scope to
help Canada grow out of its dependence on the United States for 75 per cent of
its trade (and 87 per cent of its exports)....
Free trade with the United States has unquestionably yielded a huge
benefit to Canada, but has also resulted in a demonstrable lack of government
and business attention to exploring opportunities elsewhere. With the clouds of
uncertainty now gathering over the border, it is time to begin paying a much
greater level of attention to Asia."
Progress On FTA With U.S."
Government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion
remarked (7/28): "On Thursday, the
House of Representatives approved the free trade agreement with Chile by a
270-156 vote...which shows how twelve years of cooperation by Chilean sectors
achieved the goal.... The events on
Capitol Hill also reflect the enormous efforts expended by our Ambassador to
the White House, Andres Bianchi; and by his advisors, who personally explained
the scope of the FTA to about 200 congressmen."
"Summit In Asuncion"
Government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion stated
(6/20): "In the XXIV Mercosur
Summit...in Paraguay...Chile reiterated the need for the regional integration
progress to go beyond purely commercial aspects. This means strengthening political stability
that in the end is the foundation for growth in all areas. In this context, Foreign Minister Alvear
underscored the importance of promoting stability and macroeconomic policies
with common goals in the area of fiscal deficit, savings, investment, exchange
rates, inflation, and growth."
"Lagos Defends The FTA In Mercosur"
Conservative daily-of-record El Mercurio noted (6/19):
"In the XXIV Mercosur summit in Asuncion, Chile was harshly criticized for
signing free trade agreements with the United States and the European
Union. Although upon arriving to the
summit President Lagos had warned that "one thing is trade and another is
political relations," he was forced to meet privately with the chiefs of
state to explain the scope of the agreements, particularly the one signed with
COLOMBIA: "The Chimera Of Mercosur"
Leading editorial in Medellin-based El Colombiano
(7/29): “The proposal to reject
bilateral treaties with the U.S. and Canada and to join Mercosur doesn’t
withstand the most elementary cost-benefit analysis.... Proposing that Colombia
enter Mercosur is irresponsible...and an attack on the national economy.”
"Andean, MERCOSUR Or FTAA?"
An op-ed by Gabriel Melo Guevara in Barranquilla-based El
Heraldo stated (7/21): “If we opt for negotiations within FTAA, it is
necessary to keep open the bilateral path and, above all, take care of trade
with our neighbors.”
An op-ed by Former Senator Rafael Orduz M. in weekly El
Espectador asserted (7/20): “Latin
American countries are proclaiming that the big mistake is not in choosing free
trade but in the absence of a culture of technological innovation and in making
timely decisions to modernize industries and minds.”
"Against The Free Trade Agreements"
An op-ed by Presidential advisor Rudolf Hommes in the four main
regional El Colombiano, El Pais, El Heraldo, Vanguardia
Liberal held (7/20): "The only way to avoid being isolated is to join
one of those free trade areas that are being formed. In the case of Colombia,
the most convenient option is to look for a free trade agreement as soon as
possible with U.S. If not, what will we do with our exports when Central
America and Peru finish their bilateral agreements with that nation? Sent them
to Brazil? Good luck! as the gringos say.”
"U.S.: Fatal Attraction"
An op-ed by economist Camilo Aldana V. in business Portafolio
noted (7/17): “Confronting our future commercial partner (the U.S.) the effort
should focus on compensation for asymmetries and neutralizing subsidies to
obtain mutual benefits. If this is not
possible, it is better not to agree, although this also could be a result of
"Heading For FTA And FTAA"
Leading editorial in business La Republica judged
(7/15): “(FTAA) is the best opportunity
for Latin America to increase its market...taking advantage of the benefits of
free trade. Colombia has made the right
decision by giving this the highest priority (a Free Trade Agreement and FTAA)
in its economic policy, which we hope will end well. For this to happen,
we expect support from President Bush
and his Trade Representative.”
"North Or South"
An editorial in leading El Tiempo observed (Internet
version, 6/23): "In the Antioquia
summit on Friday, which will also be attended by Lula, the Andean presidents
will have to decide which way to go.... At
Friday's summit, the Andean presidents will have to put their cards on the
table and decide once and for all which path they will take. Thus, the urgent
need to better prepare for any of the negotiations and to analyze the different
options, with a cool headed and unbiased way, is clearly shown."
"FTAA Or MERCOSUR?"
An op-ed by presidential advisor Rudolph Holmes ran in four major
dailies, El Colombiano, El Pais, El Heraldo and Vanguardia
Liberal stating (6/23): "If Venezuela decides to join Mercosur...the
rest of the Andean group should not follow.
Nor would it be wise to play the Brazilian strategy in the FTAA
negotiations. The Colombian agricultural
and consumer industries would be ruined under Mercosur. Peru...is leaning toward the U.S., acting
like the most suitable country in the Andean group to negotiate a free trade
agreement. Since it does not have the
pressure groups from the farming sector that Colombia has, and its riches are
more urban and industrial, Peru is not having the same debate being adopted
here by the landowners and their allies on the left and right. Because of this it believes it can take away
our negotiating turn. If we don't
undertake serious negotiations on bilateral trade agreements with both the U.S.
and Canada, with all their consequences, it is possible that Peru will supplant
us, we will be left without any good options."
"South America Seeks Unity"
The leading editorial in Cali-based provincial El Pais
stated (6/23): “The fear of entering
into the FTAA without having previously agreed-to regional accords could contribute
to bringing (the Latin American nations) together. Nevertheless, there is no common vision:
while Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have strong reservations about a trade
agreement, Chile has already signed its own treaty with the U.S. and the Colombian
and Peruvian governments appear inclined to tighten their ties with
Washington. Time is running out for the
new leaders of Mercosur and their efforts to reach a South American integration
ahead of the FTAA, expected to take effect in 2005."
ECUADOR: "Confusion Within The Andean
Community Of Nations (CAN)"
An opinion column by Washington Herrera in leading centrist El
Comercio asserted (7/29):
“The Brazilian proposal of first uniting South America as a means
of conducting more equitable negotiations with the U.S. is wise and it would
not be right to disregard it without serious consideration, especially when a
joint position by the CAN member states runs a serious risk of being ruined by
profound political differences between Venezuela and the U.S., or by tariff
differences between Peru and the rest of the members. The FTAA can define common positions on major
issues among South American countries, as in fact is happening in the defense
free trade.... Bilateral negotiations
are not useful since the pressure will be strong that we will end up caving in
to everything the U.S. asks for, keeping in mind that U.S. policy, according to
Colin Powell, is that the FTAA would allow U.S. products to have free access to
the markets throughout the entire continent....
[Trade] Minister Baki...is good at getting appointments, but fails to
get results, and she is involving us in a process that has not been debated
domestically, and we do not know if it is going to have benefits or costs for
"Free Trade Agreement"
A front page editorial in Quito’s center-left Hoy argued
(7/27): “A strong economic policy and
the strength of Chilean institutions has created an environment of stability
and confidence and has enabled the country to advance despite the serious regional
economic crisis that has affected mainly Argentina and Uruguay.... Although the FTAA will not enter into force
until 2005 and Brazil is attempting to strengthen MERCOSUR and foster
agreements with the Andean Community, other countries such as Colombia are
proceeding with arrangements to sign free trade agreements such as the Chilean
one. But Ecuador still lacks plans in
Kurt Freund Ruf judged in Quito’s leading centrist El Comercio
(7/11): “Evidently, the President from
Brazil used all his prestige and leadership in Latin America to influence a
proposal to expand Mercosur, which would create a greater number of commercial
partners and require that FTAA negotiations be held with an expanded Mercosur
--certainly, a correct and convenient strategy for Brazilian interests.... We should think about our own Ecuadorian
interests. When are we finally going to
sell to Mercosur? Where is the expanded
market that could benefit Ecuadorians who have little possibility of offering
new products?... Any system we adopt
should increase our industrial production and therefore employment.... Within
our own Andean Group, if Venezuela is surprised by Brazil, it is right to
wonder: Besides oil, what other products
does it sell?... Finally: what are the interests and goals of a larger
market for Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador?
Peru most certainly will continue with its current production, serving
first its own interests, and then those of the rest of countries. Colombia and Ecuador, whose main commercial
partner is the U.S., will surely have more benefits by negotiating a free trade
agreement with the U.S., due to the size of its market, its buying power, and
"Confusion In The
Washington Herrera opined in centrist El Comercio
(7/8): “All these studies of the
inequality of economies in the hemisphere present obstacles to concluding true
hemispheric integration. That is why
there is talk about an 'FTAA lite,' without absolute commitments, but rather
with a pragmatic flexibility that would produce beneficial results for all and
not just for the productive and rich countries.…Confusion is growing because we
are disregarding multilateralism in favor of bilateralism, where a strong
country such as the U.S. has all the cards.
The big fish eats the small one, preventing various small fish from
getting together. When a free trade zone
is proposed, we believe that the advantages one country grants another extend
to all the rest... otherwise, it is not a ‘free trade zone.’ The confusion is greater when the U.S. is
negotiating outside of the FTAA with Central American countries, granting them
greater advantages than those offered within the FTAA. Perhaps the U.S. is the one who wants a
"The Integration Summit"
A front-page editorial in center-left Hoy observed
(6/28): “The objective of negotiating
the participation of the five Andean countries in Mercosur has some logic, as a prerequisite to
negotiating conditions for entering the FTAA.... However, the political will for integration
is still weak, not only because of unequal economic realities in each country,
but also because of political and social differences.... Ecuador is taking an active role in the
Andean integration process and in reconciling differing interests. This is important when dealing with Mercosur
where we have to act as a South American regional bloc under the leadership of
Brazil, whose president was an special guest at the Summit.”
Free Trade Agreement"
Dr. Ivan Martinez commented in the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica
"Paradoxically, the current president of Chile belongs to the same
political party of former president, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in
1973, three years after his electoral victory as the first socialist-marxist
president of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet.
At that time, in the midst of the Cold War, the United States strongly
supported the coup and Pinochet's regime....
In the new political atmosphere created by the post-Cold War, the Socialist
Party of Chile is not only in government but also is one of the strong
democracy that, step by step since 1990, have been created and unfolded in the
South American Republic.... So far, the
U.S. is in the process to sign Free Trade Agreements with Central America as a
whole, Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic and this treaty with Chile
can perfectly be a model to follow for those future agreements."
"Caricom Private Sector Platform"
Anthony Gomes opined in the centrist, business-oriented Sunday
Observer (6/22): "Regrettably, the level of enthusiasm for a trade
team is significantly lower with the Jamaican private sector, compared with our
Eastern Caribbean neighbours. It is
accepted that the economic circumstances differ from territory to
territory. It is hoped, however, that
with the realization that as tariffs are lowered and 'national treatment'
prevails, competition at home will intensify.
When this occurs, the Jamaican private sector should become more
sensitive to supporting such a trade team....
Special appreciation is due to USAID for their financial support of the
private sector that has enabled Caricom delegates to participate at meetings
around the area, and for their belief in the value of the Platform to the
regional private sector.... At this 11th
hour, Jamaican businesses are urged to act now, not only in the interest of
Jamaica, but also in the interest of the organisations and their workers. Remember the slogan: 'The dollar you pledge
today, may save your business in the FTAA!'"
MEXICO: "The Treaty That
Threatens All Latin America"
Jesus Vergara Aceves writes in the old-guard nationalist El
Universal (7/15): "Domestic
political issues have compelled Mexican politicians not to pay attention to the
increasing problems that the NAFTA has posed.
But more worrisome is their overlooking the FTAA --a free trade treaty
that is a threat to all Latin American countries.... There has been a great deal of planning
regarding FTAA negotiations and its possible implementation. However, people have not focused on the
objectives of the treaty such as the handing over of domestic industries to
multinational companies, the control of natural resources and research results
through the use of patents and intellectual property rights. Just one example, U.S. farmers receive 90
million dollars in government subsidies, it is obvious that Latin American
farmers cannot receive similar subsidies so they cannot compete.... In the end, free migration (to the U.S.)
would be the minimal compensation that should be given to Latin American
PERU: "U.S. Support For Argentina"
Pro-business Gestion observed
(7/25): "As one will remember,
relations between Argentina and the U.S. had been affected by the Argentine
opposition to the U.S. decision to invade Iraq this past March. However, the meeting held last Wednesday
seems to mark a new stage in the relationship between the two
countries.... The U.S. has promised to
help Argentina in IMF negotiations. Notwithstanding the said promise,
Kirchner's visit did not leave any concrete news as some had hoped in Argentina. As one knows, Argentina is looking to reach a
new agreement with the IMF, owing to/because the temporary standing agreement
[vence] at the end of August.... The
signing of a new agreement would also improve the prospectives of the Argentine
economy... At the same time, a new
agreement with the IMF would permit Argentina to initiate the restructuring of
its external debt, considered a key
factor in consolidating the recovery it is already showing."
"Consolidation Of CAN-MERCOSUR"
Conservative flagship El Comercio editorialized
(6/30): "The need to consolidate
the integration of the Community of Andean Nations and Mercosur is
unquestionable. Now more than ever the
region must be strengthened.... We must highlight
the Andean Presidents' consensus to continue negotiations towards...the establishment
of an agreement between the CAN and Mercosur.... Andean countries must leave behind
protectionist policies...which affect their own commercial activities.... The CAN-Mercosur integration could represent
a...successful economic association...as it enhances the region's capabilities
to face the challenges posed by the FTAA....
The...possibilities for development are broad."
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:
"Caricom Supports Venezuela's Call For FTAA"
The tabloid Express asserted (7/18): "Caricom's 14 member
countries are supporting Venezuela's proposal to postpone the final date for
wrapping up negotiations to launch the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA),
Venezuela's deputy Production and Trade Minister Victor Alvarez was quoted as
saying.... In this regard, Alvarez said
that one of the more serious implications of FTAA is that if the agreement is
signed in its current form countries would have to refrain from using public
policies.... Another important point tabled
by Venezuela at the El Salvador meeting dealt with the need to create
compensatory funds 'for structural convergence which was agreed upon by the
Andean Community of Nations with the understanding that FTAA cannot be only to
eliminate tariffs,' he said.' A free
trade area is not created only for that, it is created to correct asymmetry and
disparities among our countries on areas such as airport infrastructure, ports,
highways, railroads, telecommunication services, electricity and gas,' the
Venezuelan official said."
"United Caribbean Approach To FTAA"
George Alleyne commented in the tabloid Newsday (7/2): "Had the Caribbean Community (Caricom)
effectively wooed Cuba, Santo Domingo and Haiti, say ten years ago, while at
the same time establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the
Community would have been in a stronger position today to negotiate favorable
terms of entry to the FTAA, due...in 2005....
As I noted in earlier columns, Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the
Caribbean will be swamped by cheaply produced imports of United States
companies, whether they operate in the U.S. or in Mexico.... This will be done from early into the
establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, unless a Caribbean
economic bloc of 20 million and more people can be created, and insist that for
a determined number of years, the region must be allowed to maintain reasonable
tariff structures. The economies of the
less developed Caricom countries will slide into the mire 'of a new dark age'
without protective mechanisms.... The
loss of the Caricom market will hold frightening consequences for this country,
leading as it surely will to an immediate loss of jobs, a loss of revenue, and
a further dwindling of employment opportunities triggered by less money being
turned around within the economy."
Government And The FTAA"
Maxim Ross opined in the conservative Universal
(7/25): “The U.S,...a big proponent of
the FTAA and supposed enemy of Venezuelan industrialization, has had similar
programs for years, that have nothing to do with its business plans
because...the ‘made in America’ applies to domestic commerce, and if someone
goes to the outside with a subsidy or something similar, he risks...being
punished. Above all, the big ‘lie’ is
that phenomenal discovery...of ‘FTAA light’..., which cannot advance, as Lula
and Uribe…discovered that there is no 'light’ way of doing it, which permits
one to abandon or not abandon his revolutionary rhetoric. Chávez doesn’t know...that the FTAA is the
same as always, that which we came to negotiating with great Venezuelanism and
professionalism. The FTAA of the
‘antidumping’ policies, government purchases, access to the market
and intellectual property, and technical themes were of their universal scorn,
but is what will help us to maintain the conduct of this government and the
FTAA in our memory.
editorial in independent afternoon-daily Tal Cual asserted (6/19):
“Mercosur is a valid option of course, and leads toward a historical necessity
as desirable as the European Union. A South American Union. But this cannot be
brought about by an undisciplined and easy policy that does not undertand the
hand-in-hand, close relationship between politics and economics.” ##