Friday, November 21, 2003

Brazil and the US drew up their 'menu' approach to the FTAA as a way of overcoming their deep disagreements on how comprehensive the accord should be.

BBC NEWS | Business | Americas move on giant trade zone

Here in Brazil, we call it ALCA rather than FTAA. But it's basically the extension of NAFTA to the south of the continent.

Is this a good or bad thing? It's a complex calculation. The US, despite free trade rhetoric, has been increasing tarifs on things like Brazilian oranges. They basically NEVER do free trade out of principle, always self-interested realpolitik. (eg. rewarding countries who supported them over Iraq, with bilateral trade agreements, while shunning others)

So the question is what they'll demand and get for the various concesions made under this menu. Is it better or worse than things they would have demanded as part of a universal agreement?

Things to watch out for. What happens about the military base the Americans are building at Alcantara on the Venezualan border? What about GM crops? And Brazil's current willingness to clone AIDS drugs?

At the same time, I hope this isn't an excuse for Brazil to squeeze out other South American countries.

We'll see.

Meanwhile the MST are back in town. (Some of them have been here for some time. Hilan goes and gives workshops there.)

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