In Meeting with Kirchner Lula Demands Prompt Restoration of Zelaya in Honduras

Lula meets Cristina Kirchner in BrasÀ­lia The governments and businessmen from Brazil and Argentina have to learn that both countries depend on each other and both should be interested in seeing the other side growing because the two sides will profit from this. This was the message from Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva talking alongside his Argentinean counterpart in BrasÀ­lia.

President Cristina Kirchner went to Brazil for a meeting with Lula, especially to discuss bilateral trade conflicts. For Lula the way to improve relations between the two countries is not by reducing Brazilian exports to Argentina, but by increasing Argentinean exports to Brazil.

The Brazilian leader revealed that the Economy ministers of both nations from now on will be meeting every 45 days to solve the trade difficulties between the two neighbors. Protectionism is no solution, said Lula: "It only creates distortions that are hard to revert."

"Brazil is interested in an Argentina strong, competitive and prosperous," added Lula. "This goal coincides with our national interest. It is inseparable from our insertion into the 21st century world."

Lula showed that Brazil is the main market for Argentina's industrialized goods, representing about 70% of the Argentinean exports to Brazil. In 2009, from every 10 cars exported by Argentina 9 went to Brazil.

"Our answer to the crisis," stated Lula, "should be more trade and more investment; more business and productive integration."

In a position opposed to that of the Obama administration, Lula once again reiterated the need for the ousted president of Honduras to be returned to his post. "We demand the prompt restoration of Manuel Zelaya. Otherwise, the November 29 elections will be jeopardized and an extremely dangerous precedent would be set. This is the consensus of all Latin America and the Caribbean."

There is a trade dispute going on between Argentina and Brazil right now and it's very serious because hundreds of Argentine trucks remain delayed in border crossings (mostly loaded with perishables) and bilateral trade, which reached US$ 31 billion in 2008, was falling at an annual rate of 30% in the first six months of the year following on Argentina's imposition of non-automatic licenses to imports.

Both countries are "intent in re-establishing the fluidity of bilateral trade" and establish understandings that help "to minimize conflicts" said an official release from the Brazilian chancellery.

In the second half of the year and responding to growing complaints from Brazilian exporters about Argentina's "discretionary non automatic" licenses, the administration of President Lula da Silva imposed a similar "slow down" process appealing to Customs bureaucratic methods.

In the last few weeks there have been formal and informal contacts to defuse the situation the latest of which between Argentina's Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana and his Brazilian peer, Celso Amorim, but "the final word" belongs to Presidents Cristina Kirchner and Lula da Silva "when they meet".

Argentine Industry minister Deborah Giorgi who is part of the delegation flying to Brasilia said both countries are working "with open minds and in the best spirit", but Argentina must ensure its "industrial development process".

The meeting is in the framework of the six-month consulting process agreed between Argentina and Brazil at the end of 2007 with the purpose of making the integration process "more dynamic" both bilaterally and at Mercosur level (with junior members Paraguay and Uruguay).

According to Brazilian sources besides trade issues both presidents will address cooperation in fields such as nuclear energy, space science, technology, infrastructure and migration. Agreements on pharmacology, tourism and combating tropical diseases (particularly dengue) cooperation will also be signed.

The decision to name a bilateral committee to consider the technical, economic and environment viability of future hydroelectric developments along the shared river Uruguay is apparently ready to be agreed.

In foreign policy, the Honduras political crisis and the coming November 29 elections, the Venezuela-Colombia conflict and the Copenhagen Climate Change global summit will be considered by both leaders according to Brazilian sources.

Bzz/MP

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