The FTAA: Second Phase of the Economic Opening

The FTAA: Second Phase of the Economic Opening

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The FTAA, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, is the development of the Initiative of the Americas proposed in 1991 by then-President George Bush. Later, it was discussed at the First Summit of Presidents of the Americas in Miami in 1994.


1.- The subject and its importance.

2.- The FTAA. Background. From Miami to Québec. Talks. Processes with Chile and Ecuador. Nafta results. Cases of Mexico and Canada with the Nafta Court. MAI and the WTO with public services and agriculture.

3.- The problem of external debt and prospects with the FTAA. Cases of Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. The situation and universal experience with foreign debt.

4.- Projections with the FTAA. Coffee with free import and consumption (Starbucks). The rice, the milk, the potato. African palm plantations and forestry. The industry. The robbery of Telecom .. Piracy with the brand of Aguardiente Antioqueño.

5. Conclusions.


1.1.- What is known as FTAA.
The FTAA, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, is the development of the Initiative of the Americas proposed in 1991 by then-President George Bush. Subsequently, it was discussed at the I Summit of Presidents of the Americas in Miami in 1994. Its analysis was continued at the II Summit in Santiago de Chile in 1998. Finally, it was taken up by George Bush Jr., current US President, at the III Summit of 34 Presidents of America held in Québec, Canada, in April 2001.
Unanimously, they agreed to promote the FTAA to be signed in January 2005 and put it into effect as of December 31 of the same year. A first draft was welcomed at this and subsequent meetings. It will be complemented in conversations that are scheduled between May and August of this year. They are based on the experiences of the globalizing neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus, which takes into account what Henry Kissinger defined in the sense that what is called globalization is actually another name for the dominant role of the United States. (one)

In order to deduce the advisability of the FTAA for Colombia, it is convenient to take into account the consequences of the policies imposed on us by the United States. in the last 11 years, either directly or through the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the World Trade Organization, WTO. Likewise, the current situation of the economy of the two countries and the prospects for the Agreement being analyzed.

1.2.1. Imports and exports.
Imports to Colombia amounted to US $ 5,086 million in 1991, reached a record figure of US $ 14,634 million in 1998 and fell to US $ 11,432 million in 2000. The accelerated growth with the opening of imports influenced the national crisis that arose. sharpened since 1998.
Exports amounted to US $ 7,657 million in 1991 to rise to the record of US $ 13,114 million in 2000 and fall to US $ 12,282 million in 2001.
The rise in imports has created difficulties in agriculture and industry, especially since 1998 to date. Exports have not made up for the jobs lost with increased imports. Wage earners decreased from 37.1% of the population in 1992 to 30.7% in 2000. Unemployment rose from 10.5% in 1990 to 19.7% in 2000 (7)

1.2.2. Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
In 1991, the Colombian GDP, what all the country's inhabitants produce, was US $ 42,519 million. It amounted to a record of US $ 95,123 million in 1999. In 2001, the GDP fell to US $ 82,800 million with a national income per capita of US $ 1,957. It should be noted that 11 million Colombians have no income, 11 million have an income per person of US $ 1,200. Between 25 and 33 million live in poverty with a daily income of less than US $ 2 or $ 4,500. Likewise, more than 9 million Colombians live in poverty with an income of less than one dollar, or $ 2,250 pesos a day.

In 1990, 10% of the richest Colombians had higher incomes than the 10% of the poorest, with a ratio of 40 to 1. After 11 years of economic opening, that ratio varied from 80 to 1. That is, the richest have become richer and the poorest have become poorer.

For its part, the U.S. they had an uninterrupted growth during the decade of the 90s. They reached a GDP of US $ 9,963 billion with an income per person of US $ 35,007. The countries of the European Union had a GDP of US $ 6,335 billion with an income per person of US $ 22,319. The value of the Colombian economy is 1,200 times less than that of the United States.
While the U.S. It came to have a fiscal surplus of US $ 128,000 million in 2000, as a result of its policies of globalization and the free market, Colombia ended up with a fiscal deficit of $ 6,097 billion equivalent to 6% of its GDP, a victim of those same policies. This fiscal deficit was 0.26% of GDP in 1991 when the economic opening was implemented in the Government of César Gaviria.

The U.S. They have approved a tax relief and tax refund to 95 million taxpayers for 10 years, while the Colombian Government implements more tax reforms, budget cuts to health, education, agriculture, public works and other services to its governed .

The concentration of wealth in the hands of the owners of the North American multinationals has reached unimaginable extremes. Bill Gates with a net worth of US $ 52.8 billion and Warren Buffet with US $ 35 billion, according to figures from Forbes Magazine, accumulate as the two largest super-millionaires fortunes especially obtained in the last 11 years, for the sum of US $ 87.8 billion, which exceeds Colombia's GDP in 2001, which was US $ 82.8 billion.

2.- the alca process

In his inauguration speech on January 20, 2000, President George Bush indicated that he proposed to develop two fundamental points in his administration: the expansion of trade and the security of his country. There were already symptoms of the slowdown in the US economy as a result of its excess of capital and merchandise.

The FTAA process had to be sped up to expand NAFTA or NAFTA. It had produced favorable results for US transnationals. Also to control the market of 800 million consumers, under the jurisdiction of the European Union. Likewise, to provide an outlet for excess capital in the hands of financial and commercial transnationals, with the best possible guarantees, and to extract to the maximum the natural wealth and labor of the continent's workforce.

It seeks to extend the bases of NAFTA to the rest of the continent, especially the elimination of tariffs for the free market of goods and services. That the investment of multinationals is guaranteed by the governments based on supranational organizations and courts. Thus, as in the case of NAFTA, which resolves disputes over the protection of their interests in the face of any national legislation, natural disaster, revolution or protest movement that affects their profits.

A strategy is implemented to weaken the integration processes of the Andean Community of Nations, CAN and MERCOSUR (3).

Ecuador, which holds the Presidency of the FTAA Negotiating Committee, promotes a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico. Automatically, it ties them with NAFTA and eliminates Ecuador's participation in CAN, as happened with Chile during the Augusto Pinochet government.

Chile, for its part, is advancing integration processes to NAFTA itself through a bilateral agreement with the United States. Also the recent visit of the President of Chile Ricardo Lagos to Ecuador points to another bilateral agreement with Ecuador to complete the framework of the US strategy to eliminate Chilean participation in MERCOSUR. This market has been greatly weakened by the lack of tariff agreements with Brazil and the crisis in Argentina itself due to the application of neoliberal policies imposed by the United States, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.

The NAFTA market comprises 89% of the volume or amount of the markets of the countries that make up the FTAA.
The first 7 years of NAFTA, which began on January 1, 1994, have been disastrous for Mexican workers. The maquilas are the model to export to the rest of the continent. Mexican wages have fallen 25% between 1991 and 1998. Those of manufacturing workers fell 21% between 1993 and 1999. Social security has disappeared. The quality of life deteriorates with the elimination of labor rights, collapsed wages, and destroyed social benefits for the vast majority of Aztec workers. Their living standards are worse than in the early 1980s.
President Vicente Fox of Mexico serves as the promoter of the Puebla-Panama Integration Program, known as PPP, which is nothing more than to extend Nafta to the Central American countries.

Professor Michel Chossudosky, from the University of Otawa, Canada, denounced the closed-door discussion in Québec City to impose dollarization on the continent, as one of the actions to extend Nafta to the rest of the American countries. Already Ecuador, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as Argentina that had equaled its weight to the dollar, have suffered devastating consequences with dollarization and the rest of the globalization policies managed by the United States. the IMF and Wall Street, according to the conception of the aforementioned professor.

Mexico and Canada have been victims of the NAFTA courts as recently denounced by Professor Beethoven Herrera of the National and Externado Universities of Colombia in the newspaper Portafolio (4).
The US company Metalclad accused the Government of Mexico in October 1996 of violating Article 11 of TICAN (NAFTA Treaty) when the State of San Luis Potosí refused to allow the installation of a toxic waste landfill, alleging that there was a possibility of that the installation contaminated the water supplies, in addition to affecting a sector that was later declared an ecological zone. Metalclad claimed that it was an act of expropriation and claimed a compensation payment in its favor from the Nafta Court. The Mexican Government had to disburse US $ 16.7 million for this concept.

Ethyl, a US chemical company, brought a lawsuit against the Canadian government because it prohibited the marketing of the MMT gasoline additive produced by that company. Canada considered it toxic and dangerous to public health. The lawsuit was for US $ 250 million. Canada ended up withdrawing the legislation that prohibited the use of MMT and paid compensation to the multinational Ethyl for US $ 13 million.

This type of privilege for private transnationals is what was driving the Multilateral Investment Agreement, AMI, which was rejected massively in the protests against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 and in other international mobilizations against globalizing neoliberal policies. They are the same privileges that are in NAFTA and that it is intended to impose by the U.S. in the FTAA.

The decisions of the WTO Summit in Doha, Qatar, last November ratified the extension of the liberalization of the market to all public services, including residential services, education, health and telecommunications, among others. The proposals of E.U. In its eagerness to expand its markets, it was decisive for those decisions that are applied extensively in the countries of the American continent.

In the case of agriculture, highly protected in the United States, with the new Agricultural Law for the next 10 years, US $ 97,000 million is subsidized annually to the producers of the empire.

Already the Secretary of Commerce of the United States. D. Evans (5) announced that the issue of agricultural subsidies will not be in the FTAA discussions, as it is an issue that is being debated in the WTO. In other words, Latin American countries that do not have subsidies for their agriculture and have unprotected production, totally eliminate their tariffs with the FTAA. The highly subsidized production of the U.S. it will be able to scavenge with what remains of the production of the rest of the American nations subjected to its policies, as has happened in the past decade.

The external debt has been one of the major problems causing the submission of the indebted countries of the world and particularly of the Latin American countries. The global situation and the particular cases of Mexico, Argentina and Colombia illustrate a little about the implications of the current debt problem and its prospects with the FTAA.

The external debt in 1980 was in the world of US $ 567,000 million. Currently it amounts to US $ 2,070,000 million, that is, four times the debt of 20 years ago. In those 20 years, the indebted countries have paid US $ 3,450,000 million in interest and amortization, that is, the 1,980 debt has been paid 6 times.

The debt of the Latin American countries was US $ 300,000 million in 1982. Currently, it amounts to US $ 784,000 million, that is, 2.6 times more than the debt of 1982. Between 1982 and 1996 US $ 739,000 million were paid in interest and amortizations, more than double the debt of 1982. Last year only they were paid US $ 168,000 million for the same concept, according to figures from the Latin American Economic System, Rcade, Jubileo Sur and the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February 2002.
Colombia's foreign debt was US $ 18,500 million in 1990, when the economic opening began. In December 2001 it reached US $ 39,885 million, that is, it doubled. It represents 47.8% of GDP. In the last year alone, it increased by US $ 3,491 million, which was higher than at the end of 2000, which amounted to US $ 36,394 million, equivalent to 43.7% of GDP. Each Colombian owes approximately $ 2,300,000. The sum of US $ 7,617 million was paid last year for interest and amortization (10).

Mexico has paid the U.S. US $ 300,000 million between 1982 and 2002 for interest and amortization of its foreign debt.
The Argentine public debt of US $ 132,000 million, led the brother country to a recession that has lasted more than 4 years and that in recent months has caused enormous difficulties for national workers, savers and entrepreneurs.

Colombia's experience with the economic opening of the last 11 years has been the cause of the most serious economic situation of the great majority of workers, peasants and popular sectors of the country. The experiences of Mexican workers with NAFTA in the last 8 years and the greater enrichment of North American financial and commercial multinationals, allow us to foresee the serious consequences that it will have for the country with its link to the FTAA.

The impositions of the George Bush Government with the approval of Mr. Andrés Pastrana and the opted presidential candidates to continue governing the country will bring even worse consequences for a greater recolonization of the country by the empire and greater suffering for workers, producers and others. popular sectors, since the coming of Christopher Columbus to the lands of the Continent.

The opening of agricultural imports has affected more than 50% of national production. We have gone from importing 700,000 tons in 1990 to more than 6,000,000 tons in 2001, which has cost the country to stop cultivating nearly one million hectares, increasing unemployment and poverty in the countryside. For these imports in 11 years the country has had to pay more than US $ 15,000,000 million, which represents about 80% of the increase in Colombia's external debt.

By lowering tariffs to 0%, with the FTAA, rice production is protected with 72%, sugar with 46%, chicken with 102%, milk with 44%, potatoes with 15% , among others, will definitely disappear from the fields of Colombia.
Our flagship crop, coffee, will also be wiped out with the alleged imports from Brazil and other Central American countries, Asians like Vietnam and Africans like Kenya.
And not only will we be invaded with the grain that we have produced abundantly for more than 180 years, but the coffee chains of the Starbucks Corporation of Seattle that have spread throughout the United States will be installed throughout the continent. taking 7.6% of the consumption in that country. For the year 2005 they plan to establish 900 coffee shops in Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico where they are already installed under NAFTA.

Subsidized potatoes from the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, USA, with 4,800,000 tons housed, expect to invade Colombian markets for the only important crop in our cold lands of Colombia. The 92,000 hectares cultivated and the 3,000,000 direct and indirect jobs generated by this activity are seriously threatened.

Something similar will occur with milk subsidized by 45% of its production costs in California, ending the efforts of 35,000 producers in Antioquia and the large contingents dedicated to this activity in the country.

Colombia will be dedicated to plantation crops such as African palm and reforestation. The Government of Pastrana has already announced the planting of 700,000 hectares of palm and 1,500,000 hectares in reforestation for the next 20 years. Self-sufficient food security will be subjected to the massive importation of food that will destroy what remains of our national self-determination.
The national industry will also suffer the consequences of the FTAA. The hopes of textile and garment manufacturers with the extension of the ATPA, Tariff Preferences Agreement, vanishes in the U.S. Congress. The empire prioritizes tariff preferences to Central America and the Caribbean in the process of extending Mexican maquilas to these countries within the People-Panama Plan, PPP, while defining the FTAA that will deepen the second stage of economic opening to the rest of the continent.
In 2000, garments were imported for about US $ 90 million (8). In textiles, these imports amounted to US $ 574 million. In footwear US $ 74 million, in leather products US $ 25 million. In cotton US $ 70 million and in vegetables and legumes US $ 90 million.

4.2. Telecom and Aguardiente Antioqueño cases.
The case of Telecom's joint ventures with the multinationals Nortel, Alcatel, Nec, Siemens, Ericsson and Itochu illustrates the way in which neoliberal governments such as those that the country has had in the last decade favor foreign capital, globalization and corruption.

The installation of two million new telephone lines was agreed. If profits were obtained, 90% was for transnationals and 10% for Telecom. In the opposite case, 90% of the losses were borne by Telecom. and 10% of the losses in charge of the transnationals.

Faced with the failure of the agreement, due to non-compliance by the transnationals, they sued the state company for about two billion pesos, equivalent to 89.37% of Telecom's operating income in 2001.

Conpes approved contracting an international loan to reconcile with foreign contractors for the sum of US $ 600 million. To do this, it must mortgage the local telephony, with which it obtains most of the Telecom profits. Thus, telecommunications are fully privatized. And as if that were not enough, a cut of the labor and benefits gains of its workers is promoted.

For its part, the subsidiary of the Fabrica de Licores de Antioquia, FLA, in Florida Blair's Import registered the Aguardiente Antioqueño brand as its own. Later, it was sold to the Todhunter firm. After a lawsuit before the Florida courts, the FLA, through conciliation with the latter, maintaining the distribution, obtained the return of the ownership of the trademark usurped by the North American pirate.

These types of events will be common with the linkage of Colombia and the Latin American countries to the FTAA.

The summary of the indicated elements allows to infer the following conclusions:


5.2.- The FTAA is fundamentally based on the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, in force since 1994 between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which has been widely favorable to the United States. and its transnationals.

5.3.- The FTAA is a new phase of the neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus guided by the United States, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. To deepen the recolonization of Colombia and the rest of Latin American countries.

5.4.- The Government of Andres Pastrana and the most optioned presidential candidates fully share Colombia's link to the FTAA.

5.5.- The late leader of the proletariat Felipe Mora argued that with the FTAA the North Americans come for everything. They come for the silver of the rich and the sweat and blood of the poor.

5.6.- With the columnist of the newspaper El Mundo Mario Arango (9) we can conclude that the FTAA is a TIGER BUSINESS WITH DONKEY MOORED for the benefit of the United States. and its multinationals and to the detriment of the nation and the Colombian people.


6.1.-Kissinger, Henry. Intervention at the Annual Conference of Independent Newspapers at Trinity College. Dublin, Ireland. Oct. 12/1999.

6.2.- Sosa, Alberto J. What is the free trade area of ​​the Americas ?. Rebellion newspaper. Spain. February 19,2002.

6.3.- Navarro Jiménez, Guillermo. Ecuador: Spearhead of the FTAA. January 30, 2002.

6.4.- Herrera Valencia, Beethoven. Integration with edges. Briefcase. Bogotá, March 14, 2002. p.31.

6.5- Katz, Claudio. The gulf between illusions and the effects of the FTAA. Economic Reality Magazine. Buenos Aires, Argentina. March 21,2002.

6.6.- Serrano, Pascual. FTAA: the North American economy takes over the continent. Deslinde Magazine No 30. Bogotá, February to April 2002. Excerpt from El Economista Magazine from May to August 2001.Cuba. P. 20-27.

6.7.- Avigan, Tony. The World Bank and the IMF sank Colombia. Baltimore Sun. April 4, 2002.

6.8.- Velásquez, Jorge. Globalization and the national market. The world. Medellín, April 1, 2002. Page 2.

6.9.- Arango M, Mario. The illicit: the only prosperous crops? . El Mundo, Medellín, April 11, 2002, p. 2.

6.10.- The Colombian (Colprensa). External debt grows. Medellín, April 18, 2002, page 3 B.

Video: Assessing NAFTA CAFTA and the FTAA (May 2022).


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