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Nicaragua’s Ortega asks US, EU to start free trade ’compensation funds’

The Associated Press | February 28, 2007

Nicaragua’s Ortega asks U.S., EU to start free trade ’compensation funds’

MANAGUA, Nicaragua: President Daniel Ortega has asked the United States and the European Union to set up "compensation funds" to offset the effects of free trade and globalization on poorer nations like Nicaragua.

Ortega said Wednesday that he had broached the idea with representatives of the EU - with which Nicaraguan is discussing a possible trade deal - and the United States, which along with Nicaragua is part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"We have explained to the Europeans that if there is no compensation fund, the association (agreement) would have no future," Ortega told a meeting of businesspeople.

"We want a globalization with opportunities, with fair trade, which takes the issue of social justice to heart," he added.

While Ortega did not specify how such a fund would work, he mentioned EU internal transfer programs designed to bring poorer union countries up to speed with richer nations.

"If the developed countries do not take into account the asymmetries, the problem of poverty - which creates the security problems - cannot be combatted," Ortega said.

Free trade proponents argue that increased commerce and investment inherently help combat poverty. But Ortega says many businesses and farmers in smaller countries cannot compete with agricultural subsidies and economic advantages enjoyed by producers in wealthy nations.

The United States already gives Nicaragua millions in foreign aid. On Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Sullivan confirmed that Washington will send the Central American country about US$250 million (€190 million) in the next five years.

 Fuente: IHT