International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 30, 2003

July 30, 2003






**  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 acts."


**  Skeptics regard joining the accord a "dilemma," talk of an "FTAA lite" sows "confusion."




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 economic behavior."


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.




ARGENTINA:  "Kirchner's 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 Encounter'"


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 Addresses Lula"


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 Suffocate Growth"


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 FTAA"


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 Latin America"


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 WTO."


"'Our Relationship With The US Will Surprise The World,' Said Lula"


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 multilateral framework."


"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 visit."


"Leading Case: Moving Away From Powell, Siding With Lula"


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 good-faith."


"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."


"Mexican Drama"


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 USG."


"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."


"FTAA Requirements"


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.”  


"Unique Opportunity"


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 acts."


"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 growth."




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 process."


"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."


"Bush-Lula Meeting"


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 Brazil."


"Positive Chemistry"


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 Child.'"


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 others."


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."


CHILE:  "Significant 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 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 Washington.


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.”




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 negotiations.”


"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."




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. 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 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 us.”


"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 this area.”


"Mercosur Or FTAA"


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 other benefits."


"Confusion In The FTAA"


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 lighter FTAA."


"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.”


JAMAICA:  "US-Chile Free Trade Agreement"


Dr. Ivan Martinez commented in the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica Observer (6/23):  "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 countries."


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 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, 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."


VENEZUELA:  "The 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 agricultural subsidies,

‘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.




An 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.” ##

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