Berlin: EU must assert itself against the USA in Latin America

BERLIN/MADRID | | usamexikobrasilien

BERLIN/MADRID The European Union wishes to intensify its economic and political relations with Latin America and the Caribbean region. The German federal government and parliament had previously pressed for the common strategic policy, agreed under the German presidency of the EU in 1999 to be advanced and to overcome the opposition to it in various EU member states. US analysts saw in this co-operation a new ,,solidarity"or ,,common front"against Washington's interests in the region.

The ruling coalition had brought a resolution before the Bundestag in which they complained that economic relations remained ,,behind expectations". In the resolution it was also mentioned that the restriction of the EU market for agricultural produce from Latin America did not promote co-operation. The German federal government should therefore work towards ,,the dismnantling of protectionist measures and subsidies within the European agriculutural market". ,,An intensification of political contacts with the aim of common initiatives in world policy"was also demanded.

The Foreign Office stated that ,,bi-regional co-operation"was a suitable means to ,,have a stabilising influence on the political and economic development of Latin America". Federal Chancellor Schroeder demanded a ,,markedly enlarged exchange of trade with the markets of the future in South America"and the building up of the strategic partnership between the EU and Latin America; this was ,,not directed against anyone".

The EU should liberate Latin America from dependency on the USA

In the parliamentary debate spokesmen of all parties were agreed that German foreign policy must urge the other EU states to free the Latin American continent from economic dependency and the political and military dominance of the United States by means of close co-operation.

It was unconditionally necessary to come to a speedy association agreement with the South American free trade zone MERCOSUR in order to forestall the American initiative for the merging of NAFTA and the Transamerican Free Trade Zone (FTAA). The establishment of a pan American free trade zone before the conclusion of an agreement with the EU would damage European and Latin American interests equally and lead to considerable loss of market share.

Lothar Mark, one of the movers of the resolution and Latin America spokesman for the SPD (Government party), maintained that the USA identified itself with the view of Latin America and the Caribbean as its ,,back yard"and always inclined to the Monroe doctrine of 1823 ( ,,America for the Americans"). But Latin America was a potential market and partner of the EU. Mark said it was not acceptable that Washington should try to compel Europe with diverse doctrines to ,,subordinate itself to the economic interests of the US".

Monopoly and market domination - that was the strategy of the United States; German and European firms which were active in Latin America needed fostering and support, declared Wolfgang Gehrke, foreign policy spokesman of the PDS (former communists).

In the last ten years trade with Latin America had doubled. European investment had increased tenfold since the beginning of the Nineties. Europe is today the most important investor in southern Latin America - now ahead of the USA. The South American free trade area MERCOSUR had been one of the most rapidly developing markets in the world for EU exporters. German businesses controlled outstandingly successfully established subsidiaries which, in some branches of the economy, controlled strategic market areas. German subsidiaries produced some fifteen per cent of Brazil's industrial production.

The example for Latin America - ,,the Germans in Europe"

Previously there was only the EU free trade treaty with Mexico which was signed in 2000. Since then European - Mexican trade had increased by thirty per cent. Now (May 2002) a treaty of association between the EU and Chile was tabled in Madrid, which would be signed in Seville towards the middle of June. The most far-reaching arrangements envisaged not only the almost complete liberalisation of trade in agricultural and industrial prtoducts but also services and investment. By the end of 2004 the EU and Central America hope to conclude such an agreement. The states of the Andes region are making efforts to achieve a similar pact with Europe. Corresponding negotiation have commenced with the MEROCSUR members - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The next meeting between MERCOSUR and the EU takes place in Brasilia in July - at a time when the Bazilian President Cardoso is still in power. Cardoso is a strong supporter of co-operation with the EU, especially with Germany. In Madrid he told the Mexican President Fox ,,If the leading economic power of our continent, the United States, had behaved as generously as the Germans in Europe, things would have gone much better with the Latin American countries. But one can expect no particular help from the Gringos".

In the final declaration of the summit conference, without naming Wshington directly, the USA was condemned for the imposition of economic sanctions and punitive measures ,,of a unilateral and extra-territorial character which contradict international law and the rules of world trade". Support was demanded for the establishment of the International Criminal Court and the rapid ratification of the Kyoto protocol - ,,both international initiatives opposed by the United States", as US analysts noted. They noticed ,,numerous subtle digs against US foreign policy"and a ,,new solidarity or common front"against Washington's interests in the region.

Sources:
Relations with Brazil and Latin America. Lecture by Minister of State Dr. Volmer in Brazilian Centre for International Relations (CEBRI) Rio de Janeiro; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 21.03.2001
Intensification of relations between EU, Latin America and the Caribbean; Bundestags-Drucksache 14/9051 www.bundestag.de
Protocol of sitting 236 of the German Bundestag of 16.05.2002, TOP 16, Discussion of request of SPD and League 90/The Green Party: Intensification of contacts between the EU, Latin AMerica and the Caribbean; www.bundestag.de
The EU should assert itself against the USA; Frankfurter Rundschau 16.05.2002
Summit Conference of heads of state and government of the EU, Latin America and Caribbean countries in Madrid; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 17.05.2002
German Federal Chancellor: Bringing forward agreement between EU and MERCOSUR; www.bundesregierung.de 17.05.2002
Political Declaration: The Madrid Commitment (SN 1658/6/02 REV 6) www.ue2002.es
The European Option. Criticism in Washington of the Meeting in Madrid; Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.05.2002