International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 18, 2003

June 18, 2003





** 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 realignments.


** 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 "constructive partnership."


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 realistic sign."


"New 'Four-Plus-One' Deal Proposal To The U.S."


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."


"Giant's Footsteps"


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 Argentina" 


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 Kirchner Administration"


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. agenda."


"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 negotiation."


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 us."


"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 industrial policies."


 "Room Opening To An Understanding"


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 this opportunity."


"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 reflect upon."


"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 development."


"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 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 region."


"The FTA"


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 consolidation."


"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 America"


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 American nations.”


"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 With U.S.”


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.”




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.”


ECUADOR:  "Agriculture 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 agricultural sector."


"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 making economic progress while the other nations...are living in one of the most disconcerting times of their history....  Andean 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."


"Chile's Leap"


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 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.... pursuing a similar agreement....  Meanwhile, Ecuador is still asleep, stuck as usual."


 "Uribe's Bilateralism"


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 of great importance 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.”




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 (Colombia) abyss."


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