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President Chávez is not the problem with CAN, but FTA’s

El Universal, Caracas

President Chávez is not the problem with CAN, but FTA’s

30 March 2006

Rather than any remarks made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the problem of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) is the execution of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the United States, Foreign Vice-Minister Pavel Rondón told state TV channel Venezolana de Televisión during an interview.

"CAN has entered a problematic situation, and FTA’s are the problem with CAN, instead of Chávez’ statements," Rondón said.

The official thinks that the execution of a FTA by Peru and Colombia, and possibly Ecuador, will bring changes to CAN, with an impact on the two remaining members, Venezuela and Bolivia, which nations are not planning to join the trade deal.

The official explained, for instance, that if Colombia were to import with low tariffs rice or corn subsidized by the Unites States, this may hinder Venezuela’s efforts at self-sufficiency concerning production of these two items, as they would enter ultimately the Venezuelan market.

"We respect any decision to be made by CAN members, but warn about the potential impact," Rondón stated.