Media Center



May 10, 2007 - Washington, DC

Thank you very much; I’m not going to make any opening remarks, as I was going to do it a t the beginning but unfortunately the Americas are not only about free trade, we had some pending problems we had to take care of before coming here. I want to thank you first for being here at this very timely meeting. Some would say what timely, I mean the agreements that are negotiated are already negotiated, and the future is not very bright in this *time, But I think it is very appropriate moment to discuss matters of free trade, especially here. I want to begin by saying is believed, and not because I am at the OAS now or because I *live in Washington, some of you may have already heard me say this when over ten years ago I was foreign minister in my country: free trade depends from the United States, the US is the machine that moves free trade around the world which is something different that we are lead to believe, if you read the article today in the NY Times. But in fact everything that has been done, has been done in a climate created by policies of this country, from the bush initiative to the NAFTA, to the Uruguay Round, to the *DOHAL Round … You can praise a lot of things about the European Union, and one would say it is a good example of free trade. It it’s a good example of managed free trade, which is also an alternative. It has reached some interesting trade agreements lately, one with *Chile, and one with Mexico. The whole business of the European Union is regulating trade.

The Asian countries are great exporters, to sell something in Asia is difficult, and to sell manufactured goods in Asia of few years ago is almost impossible. We had one Ambassador of Chile in Japan make an estimate of 1 to 20 for every Chilean *ton put in Japan, every Japanese *ton put in Chile was worth about 30 or 40 times Chilean ton put in Japan, because we sold only copper and we sold only non processed wood and some agricultural products, and they would send us the cars and the televisions and all the things and that’s the way it was. This is the only country that has trade in the sense that it gets and it receives.

Our main concern today, and that’s why I say so timely, that that’s beginning to change, so I don’t think that we can go too far if the moon in the US continues to be what it is lately. Fred *Burstein has been an important and relevant figure in these matters, actually I haven’t had the chance to read him so much, but I remember something I always wanted to be like, something *called like a Group of Eminent Persons. Who doesn’t want to be an eminent person? Because of his contribution of pushing the cause of free trade around the world, but especially the case of Asia has a lot of success, and he would say something which makes a lot of sense when we spoke about Latin America and trade in the Americas, made a lot of sense just with one *notion, to be able to follow that path, be able to approve the agreement with Colombia, Peru and with Panama, and that’s the big issue today.

I am very much of the believe that a lot has been said about the consequences of not approving the treaty with Panama, Colombia and Peru would have for inter American relations, which I think would be very serious, would have dire consequences, but little has been said about that, the consequences would be for the whole cause of free trade. After that, if that happens, we certainly close a cycle, of course some would say we are at the beginning, because after all FDAA was sign basically to have some agreement with Mercosur, so every body would be on board except the Mercosur. But, I mean, in fact, the Mercosur goes to other channels, the Mercosur has to do with the *goes around, the Mercosur has to do with cultural subsequences; the Mercosur has to do with all the problems that bloc at a world level.

So, by going forward with Colombia, Panama and with Peru that’s as far as we go in Latin America for the present future, and then we would probably have to have some kind of AFCA to try and create a free zone there. But the limits are not proved, and then I won’t speak about enemies because this is not a war, but the adversaries of free trade will have won a major battle, and there will be certainly changes in the mood. The strange thing about Chile, because I know only Chile, I don’t know one country that has sing a free trade treaty and has not been benefited them, usually in these discussions, discussion yes, but in this country things went bad and in this country things were right. I mean, no one can put example on when things are wrong for other countries. But we will have a situation in which it will be common truth for everybody that free trade agreements can’t be stops because they were not a good idea, and then we’ll create a real political problem.

The real problem here is what do we do, I should have said something about the countries do not have, well Bolivia and Ecuador benefit from some great important preferences from the US and I actually believe that’s as far as they want to go, as they can go at this moment given the situation of their economies. And of course Venezuela is the case of a country that does not need free trade agreement because it sells everything they want in the United States with out a tariff and it buys a reasonable amount of United States products too. Is not only for them, but the real issue is how do we push forward the free agreement trade pending in the congress for means of vital importance, its of vital importance because it consequence are not only for the Americas, but the consequences are also for free trade of the world, and for reaching new agreements and for moving forward in agreements would be also very dangerous. That’s all I wanted to say today, together with thanking you for the contribution you have made to the discussion in our organization.

Thank you very much.