Geo-Strategic Partnership

CIUDAD DE MEXICO/SANTO DOMINGO | | mexiko

CIUDAD DE MEXICO/SANTO DOMINGO (Own report) - The conclusion of free-trade and association agreements with several alliances of Latin American states was accompanied by lessons on neo-liberalism by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier was in the Dominican Republic, April 19, after having visited Mexico and Panama. Steinmeier said whoever had reservations concerning German free-trade offers, was "insufficiently developed" for the regional requirements. The purpose of his Latin American tour was to hconsolidate the German economic basis in the competition with the USA and the People's Republic of China. In Mexico, Steinmeier called for a "geo-strategic partnership" that is directly aimed at the USA, in Panama the program was centered around the German participation in upgrading the canal, one of the most important waterways for the USA. The German minister's tour is supplemented with wide-ranging activities of other EU dignitaries. Both the EU Commissioner for External Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, were also on tour in Latin America. Social organizations criticize the dire consequences the competing industrial powers' growing pressure is having on the economies of the states south of the Rio Grande.

This is the second visit of the German foreign minister to Latin America within a year, and he announced that these visits will be repeated in more rapid succession. His objective is to enhance relations "with great commitment."[1] Whereas officially the objective is the consolidation of current political and economic links between the Latin American continent and the EU, indirectly, the goal is to enhance competition advantages in relationship to the USA and, more recently, also China.

Race of Pursuit

In the German capital one hears that Latin America has "enormous development potential."[2] To be able to partake of this potential on a large scale, Berlin is relying on free-trade contracts with regional alliances of Latin American states. Their economic protective measures should be dismantled, so that German enterprises can have more open access to their market. Berlin has learned its lesson from its negative business experience with Mexico. German export enterprises lost enormous shares of the Mexican market, when Mexico joined the North American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA) in 1994. These agreements assured privileged business relations for the USA and Canada but shut Berlin out. Six years later Berlin embarked on a race of pursuit - when the free-trade agreement with the EU came into effect (July 1, 2000).

Geo-Strategic

Advantaged through the free-trade agreement, the EU-Mexican economic relations partially counterbalance Mexico's nearly complete dependence on the USA. The negotiating partners do not hide the fact that the current contacts to Berlin and the EU are aimed at moving toward a more comprehensive counterweight, with Washington being the main point of impact. The Ten-Point Paper, signed April 17, by Steinmeier and his Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinose, is designated a "policy statement,"[3] upon which they would like to base a "geo-strategic partnership" and a "privileged relationship." Germany revives old traditions. Already during the German Empire, the foreign ministry declared that it would reinforce its contacts to this Middle American country, and develop Mexico into a "Bulwark" against the USA.[4] Germany pursued similar concepts during the period between the two world wars. As is to be seen from the "policy statement", the German position in Mexico is to be extended and culturally flanked.

Culture

To serve this purpose, a "German Information Center" has been established in the Mexican capital to supplement the traditional foreign relations cultural policy. As the German foreign minister explained at the "center's" inauguration, this establishment is meant to furnish "the continent with news in Spanish about Germany" [5] - for the time being, through its own internet presence. The website is composed in the German embassy, its image is adapted to that of the foreign ministry's website. Berlin announced that, aside from the advertising rostrum directed at the state, it intends, in the future, to dedicate more of its attention to the approx. 60,000 "ethnic German" Mexicans. The country's five "German schools", where a German high school graduation certificate can be achieved, is also to be more strongly supported. One-fifth of the graduates continue their studies in Germany, (only 2 percent in the USA). Four of the current government's ministers became acquainted with Germany through their studies at Mexican "German Schools." Among them is the current foreign minister.

Direct Benefit

German enterprises benefit directly from this German-Mexican cooperation. Mexico is not only seen in the business world as a lucrative sales market, with its population of 100 million. The bilateral trade volume increased from 2004 - 2006 by 50% to reach US $12.8 billion. Above all because of its membership in the NAFTA, this Central American nation is very important as a cheap-labor location, for the production of goods that will then be sold in the USA and Canada. The Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, who visited Germany already in January, will soon make his second visit, for the purpose of expanding the bilateral relations between Mexico City and Berlin. After all, in 2010, in promotion of their cooperation, both countries will celebrate anniversaries together. Mexico will be celebrating the bicentennial of its independence from Spanish colonization and Berlin its 20 years of "reunification."

Association

Berlin particularly covets a free trade agreement that, besides Mexico, includes also the largest markets of the subcontinent, Brazil and Argentina, which are members of the South American economic alliance, Mercosur.[6] In its agenda for the EU Council Presidency, the German government declared its intention to have successfully concluded the necessary negotiations already in the first half of 2007. The German foreign minister and several of his EU counterparts are meeting April 19, with representatives of Mercosur in the Dominican Republic. Immediately thereafter there will be discussions with representatives of the South American "Andes Community" and the Central American "San Jose Group," to negotiate an association agreement with both.

Insufficient

Since the German efforts are met with distrust, the German foreign minister found it necessary to give lessons. The "willingness for reinforced regional cooperation" is "insufficiently developed" in several of the Latin American states, lectured Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Accused for their lack of compliance over years of negotiations are, above all, Venezuela and Bolivia. The foreign minister claims they "disrupted" the cooperation. Both countries are seeking to elude the US-American-European hegemony.[7]

Loser

Whereas the German foreign minister is forcing the opening of Latin America's economy for German enterprises, representatives of social organizations are complaining of the pressures imposed on the states south of the Rio Grande. In their attempts to outdo their global competitors, the EU, the USA and, more recently, the People's Republic of China have been crowding onto the market of the subcontinent and thereby weakening the domestic economies. The most recent examples are the free-trade and association agreements that the German foreign minister will be demanded, April 19, from all states of the Latin American continent. Critics are predicting that those countries removing the protective measures from their economies, will suffer a rise in unemployment and growing poverty. They will be nourishing the major powers' struggle for global hegemony with their drain of free-trade profits.

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[1] "Die Erwartungen an uns sind groß". Interview mit Bundesaußenminister Steinmeier zu seiner Lateinamerikareise; Die Welt 12.05.2006
[2] Steinmeier zum zweiten Mal nach Lateinamerika; worldtext.ap.org
[3] Steinmeier besiegelt geostrategische Partnerschaft mit Mexiko; AP 18.04.2007
[4] see also Bollwerk
[5] Rede von Bundesminister Steinmeier bei der Einweihung des neuen Kanzleigebäudes der deutschen Botschaft in Mexiko, Ciudad de México 17.04.2007
[6] Dem Mercosur gehören neben Brasilien und Argentinien auch Venezuela, Uruguay und Paraguay an.
[7] see also Wandel durch Entwicklung, Warnings, Property Obliges and Top down, bottom up