The United States Ambassador to Brazil, Donna Hrinak, said that discussions about the implantation of the Free
Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) are passing through a critical stage.
She explained that, despite differences in their positions, Brazil and the United States can reach an accord. "We have
to see what kind of progress we shall make in Cancun, at the World Trade Organization negotiating round. This also has
an influence on what we shall be able to do in the hemisphere," she explained, following a luncheon at the American
Chamber of Commerce, in Rio de Janeiro.
Hrinak believes that the FTAA will go into effect in 2005. "I think it's feasible. The two Presidents committed
themselves to this date, reaffirming a commitment made nine years ago." In her opinion, the major difficulty to making the FTAA a
reality is to reconcile the interests of 34 countries that are so different. At the luncheon she told the entrepreneurs who attended
the meeting that cooperation between the United States and Brazil exists in many areas. The Ambassador cited the example
of the two governments' assistance in developing the fight against Aids in Africa, beginning with Mozambique and Angola.
The Ambassador also commented on the historical importance of the meeting, last June 20, between Presidents Luiz
Inácio Lula da Silva, of Brazil, and George W. Bush, of the United States, in Washington. Hrinak explained that, as a general
rule, these meetings are held at the chancellery level, and the fact that this one took place between Presidents, in her view,
"reflects an exceptional bilateral relationship."
South America First
Following a work meeting with the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said
that the integration of South America as a region of peace and prosperity is one of the objectives of his Administration.
The President affirmed that the visits he has received from all the Presidents of South America, with the exception of
Chile's Ricardo Lagos, gave him the opportunity to reaffirm his conviction "of how much an integrated, prosperous, and
democratically fortified South America can contribute to the progress of our nations."
According to Lula, Brazil is intensifying its efforts on behalf of reciprocal understandings with all the neighboring
countries, from Uruguay to Surinam, to deepen diplomatic, political, economic, cultural, and social ties.
The Brazilian President also affirmed to Bharrat his desire to give an impetus to relations with Guyana, intensifying
technical cooperation in the areas of agriculture and health, as well as investigating other sectors that can contribute to the
economic development of both countries.
South America priorities
At the meeting of the Executive Council for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA),
held in July in Caracas, Venezuela, discussions had to do with projects to finance the construction of roads, installation of
energy transmission cables, and support for telecommunications.
According to the head of the South America II Division (DAM-II) of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, José
Eduardo Felício, there are conditions essential for the strengthening of integration among the countries of South America. "The
meeting marked the end of the planning phase and the transition to the execution phase," he affirmed.
He informed that, so far, around US$ 1.5 billion have been spent on studies and projects for the integration program.
Most of the financing has come from the Andean Development Corporation (ADC) and the Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB). The IIRSA, which is scheduled to end in 2020, can contribute to the economic strengthening of the countries on
the continent in an integrated manner.
Between August 6 and 8, at the headquarters of the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), in
Rio de Janeiro, all the countries of South Americawith the exception of Brazilwill present two projects to receive
financing from the ADC, the IDB, the Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin (Fonplata), and the BNDES itself.
"The idea of the seminar will be to establish priorities for the more than 180 integration projects already identified
by the IIRSA since its inception in September, 2000," the diplomat explained.
Felício added that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is especially interested in the South American integration
program, and, to give it a push, Lula intends to converse with other government leaders at the inauguration of the new President
of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, on August 15.
Up to now, the integration program has identified nine basic axes around which the projects should be centered.
According to Felício, the importance of these geographical axes is that they can represent growth vectors for the economies of
the region, as well as creating closer ties of physical and economic integration among South American countries.
The diplomat underscored that the integration program, which constitutes a parallel effort to what is being done by
the Mercosud and Andean Community blocs, can bring uncounted benefits, such as, for example, increasing energy stocks
through the expansion of gas pipelines between Brazil and Venezuela.
This article was released by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press service of the Brazilian government.
Comments are welcome at email@example.com