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Proliferation of Bilateral Agreements Subject to Criticism

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Proliferation of Bilateral Agreements Subject to Criticism

posted 21-June-2004

UNCTAD considers that bilateral agreements are discriminatory and set a precedent that controls future negotiations.

Grupo Reforma / AFP

Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa (December 2015). Not reviewed by nor any other organization or person.

San Paulo, Brazil (16 June 2004) - On Wednesday, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) criticized the US strategy of multiplying bilateral trade agreements before multilateral negotiations collapsed.

"There is a long term strategy for global development; not only the US strategy to make bilateral agreements and impose its agenda is at play", alerted the Executive Secretary of CEPAL, José Luis Machinea, at a round table of the 11th UNCTAD Conference now underway in San Paulo.

The former Argentine Minister for the Economy, cited by the weak State Agency, added:
This strategy “is dangerous for hemispheric integration and for multilateral negotiations because, instead of sitting down to negotiate everything, developed countries are pledging market access and are imposing on each country individually, their agenda on investment, intellectual property and government procurement”.

For the UNCTAD Secretary General, the Brazilian, Rubens Ricupero, bilateral negotiations "are jeopardizing non-discrimination and depriving it of meaning. [Non-discrimination] is a key tenet of bilateral trade".

Bilateral agreements are "discriminatory" and "establish a precedent” that controls subsequent agreements, said Ricupero; he gave the example of the US – Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), declaring that Washington’s future partners will be required to make the same concessions as the Andean country.

The United States has prioritized bilateral negotiations following the failure of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference, last year in Cancun (Mexico) and the stalemate in negotiations for establishing a Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAAs) before January 2005.

In the WTO, the G-20 of emerging countries led by Brazil, placed the reduction of agricultural subsidies for rich countries at the heart of the debate, whereas in the FTAAs’ [negotiations], Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) is demanding a greater opening of the US agricultural sector and is resisting a rapid opening of the sectors of their own economies that could be seen to be threatened by this process.

Ricupero pointed out:
"Mercosur has comparative advantages in agricultural products. This is why any negotiation with the United States that does not include agricultural products will be more difficult.”