Prensa Latina, Cuba
Bleak Outlook for Peru under FTA
2 December 2005
Lima, Dec 2 (Prensa Latina) Peruvian rural families will have great losses if the Free Trade Agreement with the US is signed under current terms, a GRADE study (Analysis Group for Development) concluded on Thursday.
Lead GRADE researcher Javier Escobal said tariff deregulation of sensitive farm products under the agreement will mean losses of about 370 million dollars for rural families.
According to the still-incomplete study commissioned by the World Bank, 70 percent of this impact will be felt in the country’s mountainous areas, the main producers of items subject to liberalization, such as wheat, barley, corn, meat and milk.
Also from GRADE, researcher Eduardo Zegarra said the clash with national farm interests will also occur in forest areas due to their high rice import quota and the immediate tax relief for oil palm.
Zegarra attacked the government for leaving US protection mechanisms on the FTA negotiating table saying that was a red line and to go beyond it implies stepping back from commitments to farmers.
The expert described such deregulation as "immoral" and directly blamed Minister of Agriculture Manuel Manrique, who took the step without any technical study of its impact.
On Wednesday, Manrique announced that the Peruvian negotiating team will go to Washington on Monday to renew FTA talks in an attempt for make it a reality by Christmas.
The minister said that the government favors exchange of views with the country’s farm producers.
However, Manrique’s remarks were denied by president of Peru’s National Farm Convention Luis Zuniga, who was outraged that negotiators will travel to the US with the mission to sign the FTA.
They were given the order by President Alejandro Toledo to sign the pact, so they will end up selling our market cheap ; they are not concerned about Peru, he protested.
He warned that farm workers will stage protests if the Toledo Administration’s unjustified hurry to sign the FTA leads to a "poorly, hastily-planned negotiation."