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The Miami round: We are already in the worst of the worlds
Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2005
On the eve of the Miami round, the USA’s ambassador William Wood declared that without signing the Free Trade Agreement, and because there will be no prorogation of the APTDEA, “Colombia will remain in the worst of the worlds”. He added that the AFTA should be similar to the ones already signed with other countries (like with Chile and Central America). This isn’t a new position. From the first day it has been argued by the North Americans spokesmen. They cannot step out the script for their Congress and less when they are negotiating with weak governments that want to sign no matter what. The Colombian Agriculturists Society (SAC) got worried saying that: “The USA is corralling the Government and it is not defending itself”.
The lamentable situation isn’t that the North Americans put pressure, because they have done that all the time, but the Colombian government’s answer. Botero, the minister, showed himself to be comprehensive and tolerant with the declarations from the USA’s ambassador, he assured that there would be great advances in the Miami round and, with the United States straight in its positions and without even defined the date for the bilateral meeting for agricultural issues, the minister assured that at the end of September they would be finishing the negotiations and signing the AFTA. The minister repeated that the “technical” phase is over and that what are left are political definitions. Showing his mendicant face, he declared that Colombia is a strategic allied for the USA because of its war on drugs and terrorism.
The USA have already answer this argument in many times saying that for those situations there is the Plan Colombia and the many military and economic aids which are working independently from the AFTA negotiations, making clearness between one thing and another.
The North American ambassador besides repeated what already had been pointed out by the Colombian government, which is that the eventual winners of the AFTA are not defending the agreement. A few days ago a newspaper, assured in a triumphant way that finally the winners were ready to fight. When the newspaper started to number which they were, they could be counted with the fingers of one hand. The textile industry is still weighed down with the free trade measures from the past, which will multiply with AFTA. In turn the offer is to settle sweat shops in order to compete with China in the North American market and to give up the internal market. That’s no exactly a motive of euphoria. To the footwear producers, which are working using the 35 percent of their settled capacity and that already are losing a good part of the internal market, the governments are offering similar things, but with certain kinds of shoes and as always the offers are not that the north Americans are going to buy their shoes, but that they are going to let the Colombians to make offers. The Colombians are not going to reach the North American market in a competitive way, due to the high costs of the transportation and those of the public services. All the industrialists are being threatened with an avalanche of second hand or used products. The North American producers of Soya are not going to aloud that palm oil form Colombia arrives and start to compete. That’s why there’s no body that defends the AFTA. Of course there’s going to be winners, but they are going to be the Colombian functionaries that are negotiating the agreement with so much enthusiasm and that most probably tomorrow will be part of the pay roll of the World Bank or the IMF.
In those circumstances, the Miami round will be a new charade. The most important themes will be postponed for the final round. Because the CAFTA has not been yet approved, the USA will not make any miserable offer. The real final negotiation will take place between Uribe and Bush in the Ranch of Texas at the beginning of August, and from there, with the fragility that a polemic negotiation with the paramilitary forces gives to him, Uribe will say YES.
What is left is to appeal to the social movement and all the ones that are going to be damaged to prevent that the crime is done.