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Brazzil - Economy - August 2003
 

Brazil: FTAA, Hopes and Fears

Donna Hrinak, US Ambassador to Brazil, is confident that the FTAA
will go into effect in 2005. According to her, the major difficulty
will be to reconcile the diverse interests of the 34 countries
involved in the American continent's trade agreement.
As for
Lula, he seems more interested in the Mercosur, right now.

AB

 

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 America—with the exception of Brazil—will 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 lucas@radiobras.gov.br

 









 
 
 







 



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