The new American Ambassador to Brazil, John Danilovich, said that it is excessively optimistic to think that negotiations to implement the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) will be concluded by January, 2005, as was initially envisioned. The Ambassador expressed this opinion at a luncheon offered by the American Chamber of Commerce.
“Because of the electoral process in the United States, I believe it is a bit overly optimistic to imagine that the negotiations for the implementation of the FTAA will be concluded by January, 2005. The two governments (Brazil and the US) will spare no effort for this to be achieved, but I still consider the time frame too optimistic.”
Danilovich recalled that Ambassador Peter Algeier, who is in charge of the negotiations on the American side, will be in Brazil in the next two weeks to finalize the agreement, but, in consequence of the elections that will be held in the United States on November 3, he considers it difficult for any agreement to be confirmed.
As for the understandings underway between the Mercosur countries and the European Union to create a free trade area, the Ambassador affirmed that it is “very important” for countries to establish free trade agreements.
“This is so, because, in a general, universal way, free trade is a positive thing, to increase the level of income and quality of life among populations all over the world. So we look favorably on Brazil’s drawing closer to the European Union to encourage free trade with the countries of South America.”
Nevertheless, Danilovich underscored the fact that there is greater urgency in the need to conclude negotiations with the European Union than with the FTAA.
“The visit by the European Commissioner for Trade Policy, Pascal Lamy, to Brazil, where he spent last Sunday with President Lula, illustrates this very well: The Mercosur and the European Union have until next month, when the mandate of the current Administration ends, to conclude the agreement, which has been under negotiation for several years. With regard to the FTAA, there is greater flexibility and no definite deadline.
“The problem I perceive in the negotiations between the Mercosur and the European Union is that they must be over by October. This is so, because, with the change set for October in the European Union’s executive command, this cutoff date must be respected.
“We have the flexibility of reaching an agreement by January, 2005, or not. In the European case, the agreement must be made by October, or else there will be problems,” he concluded.
Reporter: Nielmar de Oliveira
Translator: David Silberstein