Radio Mundo Real | 17/11/2008
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Divide to Conquer
The European Union Divides Andean Community in Defense of Their Companies
The constant pression exerted by the European Union (UE) on the countries of the Andean Community of Nations (ACN) to reach an FTA under an Association Agreement caused that, while Peru and Colombia decided to follow that path, Ecuador and Bolivia are excluded from the negotiations, similarly to the US imposition of FTAs.
On November 13th it was announced that the European Commission (EC) will negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Peru and Colombia, countries which were insisting on a separation from the rest of ACN members, Ecuador and Bolivia, which were uncertain about the European “proposal” called the Association Agreements.
Foreign Affairs European Commissioner, Benita Ferrero Waldner, announced the official character of the division after meeting with Peruvian and Colombian Foreign Affair Ministers José García Belaunde and Jaime Bermúdez Merizalde in Brussels. With the failure of EU-ACN negotiations, the EC will have to draft another road map to start the dialogue with Colombia and Peru, which will be possible by next year.
This decision was forwarded by Ecuador’s suspension (current chair of ACN) of a meeting planned in Guayaquil on the 14th, aimed at restarting the negotiations between the blocs. Peruvian and Colombian ministers celebrated Ferrero Waldner’s announcement, and stated that the future of the negotiations is still open for the rest of ACN members. But Bolivia’s answer, which government has criticised the “european proposal” and considers it a substitute for the failed FTAA didn’t take long.
Prioritize integration and not corporations
David Choquehuanca Céspedes, Bolivian Foreign Affairs Minister, stated in a press conference that his country aims at a trade agreement which respects a differentiated treatment and acknowledges the deep differences, an agreement that doesn’t promote the liberalization of financial services, where commodities are excluded from markets, where there are no patents to life, and in favour of the complementarity among countries and against competition for profits”.
Choquehuanca also stated that the contents of the Association Agreements promoted by Brussels and which were accepted by the Peruvian and Colombian governments have “prioritized the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement before the conservation and strengthening of the Andean integration. They chose to support the needs of the big transnational corporations instead of the interests of the peoples”.
He believes Ferrero Waldner has “rushed her decision and is preventing the Andean countries to reach consensus, thus dividing ACN, like the US did with their FTAs”.