Vol. 4, no 22, Monday, June 7, 2004
IIIe Sommet Union européenne - Amérique latine et Caraïbes (UE-ALC): Faire progresser le partenariat stratégique - Déclaration de Guadalajara
IN THIS ISSUE :
Latin Reporters, Guadalajara, le 30 mai 2004 - 2004/05/30
25 EU heads of state and government and 33 of their counterparts from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) were in Guadalajara, Mexico, on May 28, 2004, for the third EU-LAC summit. In a paper presented to the European Parliament and the Council on summit objectives for EU-LAC relations, the European Commission stressed that significant progress was needed in two key areas—social cohesion and regional integration, and the strengthening of bi-regional cooperation within the multilateral framework. It was the first summit since enlargement, and in-depth talks with LAC countries will be followed by bilateral and regional agreements, including a EU-MERCUSOR ministerial conference intended to move the parties closer to an associational agreement. The Commission also indicated that other steps toward regional and subregional integration would speed economic growth and foster further progress under the EU-LAC strategic bi-regional partnership. On the economic front, enhanced regional integration will help the region capitalize on its potential and facilitate access to international markets on the part of the countries concerned. Politically, it will give Latin America greater international influence.
The first EU-LAC Summit held on June 28–29, 1999, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sought to improve mutual understanding of the political, economic, and cultural realities of the two regions with a view to developing a tri-dimensional strategic partnership centered on the establishment of a fruitful political dialog respectful of international law and reflecting a deep, shared commitment to multilateralism; solid economic and financial relations rooted in extensive but balanced liberalization of trade and capital flow; and greater, more creative cooperation in the areas of education, science, technology, culture, and human and social development. The second summit in Madrid, Spain, on May 17, 2002, sought to build on the process launched in Rio and reassert EU and LAC determination to develop a bi-regional strategic partnership. These objectives took shape with the signing of the EU-Chile Association Agreement in November 2002 and the wrap-up of negotiations for the Political Dialogue and Cooperation agreements signed with Central American and the Andean Community in Rome in December 2003. In short, not only has the EU emerged as Latin America’s second largest trading partner, it is also the region’s top source of direct foreign investment and leading supplier of development assistance.
At the conclusion of the 3rd summit, the 58 EU and LAC heads of state and government in attendance signed the Guadalajara Declaration. The document hailed prospects for an ambitious agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR and instructed negotiators “to intensify their work so that this result can be achieved by the target date of October 2004.” Signatories also agreed to commitments in support of cultural diversity: “We agree to promote, on a bi-regional basis, cultural dialogue in sectors which reflect cultural identity, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity, and which benefit human development, as a contribution to sustainable development, stability and peace. In this regard, we support the ongoing negotiations on a Convention on Cultural Diversity in UNESCO.” They also declared that, “We reaffirm our conviction that cultural industries contribute fundamentally to promoting cultural identity and cultural and linguistic diversity. We also recognize the important contribution of cultural industries to the promotion of sustainable development. We will explore means to enhance EU-LAC cooperation and interaction in this area.”  (Available in French, English and Spanish)
Francophonie syndicale - Confédération internationale des syndicats libre, 15 mai 2004 - 2004/05/15
Some forty union organizations affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and representing the entire international francophone community met for their first-ever forum on May 13 to 15, 2004, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The meeting was in preparation for the upcoming Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Francophonie to be held next November in Ouagadougou on the theme “The Francophonie, Solidarity in Development.” Held in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (AIF), the union forum unanimously adopted a declaration that called for “a fairer, more socially responsible form of globalization” and affirmed that “social dialog is crucial to sustainable development.” The Forum has demanded recognition as an official preferred partner of the Francophonie (OIF) and its agencies on all development-related issues. Stressing that “cultural development is one of the cornerstones of development,” ICFTU “will support efforts by the Francophonie for the adoption by UNESCO in 2005 of a convention on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity.”  (Available in French)
Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC), 17 mai 2004 - 2004/05/17
“The national film agencies of the European Union countries are dedicated to supporting and strengthening Europe's audiovisual industries and through them the richness and diversity of European cultures.” Appealing to European culture ministers gathered at Cannes during the Cannes festival, agency heads called for “sufficient” EU funding for the audiovisual sector. In their joint declaration, the heads of 21 film agencies and the representatives of five other countries expressed their “concern” over any proposal that would “diminish commitment and resources at a European level that support policies aimed at a competitive and diverse audiovisual sector in Europe.” They have called for “the inclusion in the new European budget from 2007, for a budget line for audiovisual” and affirm that the budget “must recognize both the economic and cultural imperatives of audiovisual policy:”  (Available in French)
M. Robert Zoellick, United States Trade Representative, Washington, DC, 14 mai 2004 - 2004/05/14
On the occasion of the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris in May, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick gave a major speech to the French Senate on May 13 calling for the resumption of WTO negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda. Zoellick urged WTO member states to take advantage of the upturn in the world economy to kickstart the stalled talks, which have been paralyzed for a number of months. In his speech, he gave a comprehensive overview of the situation, hailing the return of a climate more conducive to negotiation, noting the major obstacles that remain and laying out a strategy for rapid progress.
Zoellick noted that in the six months following Cancun, the United States “moved forward with countries prepared to engage in real give and take,” signing new free trade deals with eight countries, making progress with another six, and announcing the launch of talks with six more. In his words, “Our strategy maintained forward momentum for free trade, helping us resist the forces of isolation in economically difficult times.” Although he sees a regaining of momentum, he cautioned that “our ability to make notable progress by this summer depends principally […] on two steps”: resolve the “Singapore Issues” by focusing exclusively on trade facilitation through the overhaul of customs rules, and concentrate on the draft agricultural text to achieve some kind of framework for reform. The trade representative went on to affirm that solutions to these issues would rapidly lead to other breakthroughs: a framework agreement on cutting industrial tariffs and removing non-tariff barriers to trade in goods, a new impetus to open up service markets, and agreement on the best way to get the poorer and smaller developing countries participating in global trade. To achieve these goals, Zoellick believes that “other countries will need to end State Trading Enterprise export monopolies and the use of differential export taxes.” He also called for “substantial cuts in domestic trade-distorting subsidies so as to greatly narrow inequalities and lower the overall permitted amount on the path to the total elimination of trade-distorting subsidies.”
Zoellick stressed that in the crucial services sector, the United States was urging the majority of WTO member states to make meaningful offers. “As part of that effort, we are willing to make available technical assistance to help developing countries present offers. We have also urged the World Bank to help developing countries assess the potential benefits and assist in preparing proposals that will involve multiple ministries.” Zoellick invites these countries to be partners in this process so that they have a chance to capitalize on the benefits of trade liberalization, since “trade offers opportunities, not guarantees.” He added that “in Africa, we need to make sure that the poorest have access to the growth and opportunities that open markets deliver.” The U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act has created economic incentives for the 37 eligible sub-Saharan countries in Africa. To build on this success, the U.S. has launched negotiations with the five member countries of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland) and continued its Middle East trade liberalization initiative, custom tailoring its efforts to the needs of each country while working toward the goal of a regional free trade agreement with the U.S. Zoellick explained that in addition to helping countries become WTO members, the U.S. was expanding the network of free trade agreements it has already signed with Jordan, Israel, Morocco, and soon Bahrain. “We are also providing assistance to build trade capacity and expand opportunities so that the countries of the Middle East can benefit from their integration into the global trading system.” For poorer developing countries that want to take advantage of new opportunities for combining trade liberalization with domestic reform, Zoellick declared, “we would be pleased to work with them to expand their ambition—for example, through the liberalization of services or sectoral negotiations in goods or agriculture or in the application of trading rules in ways that reinforce and promote their own domestic reform programs.”
The trade representative reiterated the commitment of the U.S. president, for whom the Doha negotiations remain the central objective of American trade strategy, and who knows that “more open trade is critical to offering developing countries the opportunity to move beyond the dependency of the past.” He also stated that “the President’s strong commitment to the free trade agenda […] should bolster the commitments of those who wonder whether America is serious in its offers to eliminate agricultural export subsidies […], cut drastically the tariffs on goods and agriculture, and expand services trade. We mean what we say.”  (Available in French on the AllAfrica Global Media’s Website)
M. Renaud Lambert, Observatoire français des médias, avril 2004 - 2004/04
Mr. Lambert begins his text with a wager: “Let’s bet that for the big media conglomerates that control the U.S. airwaves and news market, this is nothing but a minor setback in the unrelenting march toward the imposition of market logic in the media and elsewhere, all under the pretext of defending liberty.” Mr. Lambert’s reference is to opposition sparked by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision in June 2003 accelerating the pace of media deregulation. Given the expansion of cable networks and the Internet, FCC ruled that there was no more reason to prohibit newspapers from owning TV stations or broadcasters from controlling over 35% of their market. But the decision set off an unprecedented wave of protest led by groups like FAIR, Media Access and Media Reform, and backed by conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association. They focused public attention on the decision, “a first for Big Media, more accustomed to dealing directly and discreetly with Washington’s powerbrokers.” Although the U.S. media universe is governed by the principle of “freedom of expression” entrenched in the First Amendment, two distinct interpretations of this principle compete for ideological dominance with regard to the government’s role in regulating media: protecting “the public interest,” i.e., maintaining a diversity of points of view and rich political debate to provide the public with the most comprehensive information and debate possible; and in contrast, establishing a “free market of ideas” safe from all forms of government interference. This latter view is generally associated with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Olivier Wendell Holmes, who argued that the “the best test of truth is competition in the market of ideas.” However, as Mr. Lambert notes, the question here and elsewhere is whether market forces are the best guarantee of freedom and pluralism, or whether, on the contrary, steps must be taken to ensure that commercial interests do not interfere with democracy.
Although the notion of protecting the public interest - i.e., putting the citizen before the market - enjoyed widespread acceptance in the U.S. until the early 80s, it wasn’t long before it “became a casualty of the neoliberal revolution”: “Media groups pushing for ‘free market’ principles to drive the development of a ‘free market of ideas’ found a receptive ear in an administration obsessed with a single goal - state disengagement […]. Media are no longer required to provide balanced coverage of political and social issues if they can prove that other players on the ‘market,’ no matter how small, are offering a different point of view, freeing the ratings-obsessed media conglomerates to distill neoliberal doctrine to the public unhindered.” This is the rationale speeding up the process whereby a handful of big media groups are taking over the airwaves under the pretext that cable and Internet expansion guarantee pluralism and put an end to the threat of media monopoly. Under the law of the “free market of ideas,” valued information or valid points of view that disappear when a media group goes under will find a new outlet on cable TV or the Internet. After the Telecommunications Act put the final touch on broadcast deregulation in 1996, the number of different radio station owners in the U.S. fell by 34%. The 44 biggest stations in the country are owned by five groups. In just a few years, for example ClearChannel went from 65 stations to 1,200. And the big five networks quickly sewed up 70% of the US prime time television market, with an emphasis infotainment and infomercials as opposed to serious analysis of major social issues. Big Media is now one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, and a major benefactor of funding-driven election campaigns. Mr. Lambert concludes that “when media groups are no longer just broadcasters, but multinationals with their own financial and economic agendas, their ability to influence not only public opinion, but lawmakers as well, is a source of serious concern.” This is the context in which FCC has attempted to speed the pace of U.S. media deregulation, fueling rising public concern over media concentration that National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre expresses as follows: “When the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the products you buy and the ideas you're sold are all screened and censored and presented by the same source, you lose. Because the airwaves belong to the American people, and the FCC's job is to protect the public interest - not Big media barons who want a monopoly on public discourse.”  (Available in French)
The European Broadcasting Union (UER-EBU) held its annual “New Media Forum” in Geneva this year on June 4 and 5, 2004, on the theme “Heyday or mayday?: Broadcaster’s survival strategies in the new media environment.” Members in attendance had a chance to review the latest developments in new media management, assess the opportunities and risks of the new broadcasting environment, and explore solutions to the challenges generated by new media. 
The Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (AIF) held an international financing symposium in Paris from May 5 to 7, 2004, to facilitate access to development assistance for francophone nations, particularly less developed countries. The event drew over 300 participants, including a dozen finance ministers from francophone Africa, representatives of Francophonie member states and governments, and leaders from international organizations and development banks, (World Bank, African Development Bank, IMF, OECD, UNDP, UNESCO, European Union, Commonwealth), regional organizations (EIB, EBID, WAEMU, WADB, CEMAC), bilateral development organizations, and NGOs. The symposium was divided into four theme workshops to discuss proposals in economics and sustainable development, education and training, culture and media, and good governance. A participatory component open to civil society representatives provided an opportunity for development partners to debate a wide variety of themes, including debt-to-development conversion projects, local microcredit initiatives, and the legal security of investments. A number of proposals for action were selected for presentation at the concluding plenary attended by representatives of government, international organizations, and NGOs. These proposals were based on the preparatory work done at three round tables held in Paris in 2003 on innovative forms of economic and sustainable development funding (Sept. 18-19); education, training, and culture (Oct. 16-17); and good governance as both a condition for and purpose of funding (Nov. 20–21). A follow-up committee was established to oversee implementation of the selected proposals. Symposium conclusions and recommendations will be taken into account at the 10th Francophone Summit coming up on November 26 and 27 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, under the theme "La Francophonie, espace solidaire pour un développement durable".
On May 5 and 6, 2004. Dublin, Ireland, played host to the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference attended by the 25 EU members and the 10 Mediterranean nations who signed the Barcelona Process in 1995. The conference provided the newly enlarged EU with an opportunity to reaffirm its interest in the region. It was also an opportunity to pursue dialog in a continued spirit of cooperation with its Southern European partners with a view to identifying solutions at once political, economic, and cultural in nature. In a press briefing, French foreign minister Michel Barnier stressed the need to “put a more human face on this political and institutional cooperation, which is probably the main benefit of the EuroMediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures.” 
The Toronto Star, May 17, 2004 - 2004/05/17
This edition of the Toronto Star features an article by Douglas Williams and Robin Chetwynd on the importance of Canadian culture in setting the country apart from its imposing neighbor. They warn Canadians against the cultural marginalization caused by the American film industry, which is “killing” culture in the name of “profit.”  (Available in English only)
Granma International, Havana, May 13, 2004 - 2004/05/13
In this edition, Maria Victoria Valdés-Rodda reports that with the Patriot Plan debate in full swing and negotiations on a free trade treaty under way with the United States, Ecuadorians are wondering what the future holds for their country amidst internal crises over the government of President Lucio Gutierrez. The U.S. has invited Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador to discuss possibilities for new free trade agreements with the United States. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said on May 6 that the way was now clear for a an agreement beneficial to all parties. According to Ms Valdés-Rodda, Zoellick also said that there was more common ground than disagreement on the supposedly thorny problems of employment and investments . She concludes that Zoellick’s “remarks surprised no one while the Ecuadoran indigenous movement has already denounced repeated violations of Ecuador law by U.S. transnationals.”  (Available in English)
Agence vietnamienne d'information, le 13 mai 2004 - 2004/05/13
In this dispatch, the agency reports that the Indonesian government has been urged to launch free trade negotiations with China, Indonesia’s fourth largest trading partner after the United States, the European Union, and Japan. According to the agency, many countries view free trade agreements as a safety net to protect access to export markets in the event that WTO is unable to conclude a new multilateral agreement by the January 1, 2005 Doha round deadline. Leaders of key Asia-Pacific economies, a bloc that represents over 50% of world trade, explain that these agreements complement WTO action by further encouraging to trade liberalization. In this regard, the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has signed agreements to establish huge free trade areas with China, Japan, and India, and wants to establish a common market by 2020.  (Available in French)
Radio France Internationale (RFI), 10 mai 2004 – 2004/05/10
In this feature broadcast on RFI, journalist Annie Bourrier reported that on May 15, 2004, in Chenju, Japan, South Korea, China, and the ten ASEAN member states would be signing a major agreement on an economic and financial union: “If they agree on the main points, they will be forced to surrender part of their sovereignty to this new financial authority. Specifically, this means giving a regional, supranational body oversight over their economies,” she reported. The first step toward union was last year’s creation of the first “Asian bond market.” Ms Bourrier stressed that strategic considerations underpin interest in a union. Japan, the source of most of the proposals for the monetary union, “is seeking to strengthen its economic and financial role in the region before China becomes too powerful. It will also be an opportunity to impose the yen as the cornerstone for the future single currency.” South Korea. which “fears being left on its own to bear the cost of the crumbling North Korean regime and reunification, is seeking the rapid creation of a regional institution prepared to provide assistance and including all major East Asian economies.” In the past, stated Ms Bourrier, financial integration was but a vague hope. But increasing volumes of trade make a broad, stable financial market essential due to the increase in free trade agreements in the region.  (Available in French)
Agence de presse chinoise Xinhua, le 20 mai 2004 - 2004/05/20
In this dispatch, Xinhua reports that African and other developing countries are being pressured to show flexibility by acquiescing to U.S. and EU demands on key points in trade negotiations. In particular, these countries will be urged to open their service sectors to foreign businesses and agree to the “Singapore Issues”: on investment, competition policy, and government procurement. According to the dispatch, the EU and the U.S. are taking a flexible stance in order to undermine the unity and negotiating position of these countries. The EU is also imposing its trade program through economic partnership agreements (EPA), which are actually free trade agreements. SEATINI (Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information, and Negotiations Initiative) is therefore calling on African trade ministers to strengthen their positions in current WTO trade negotiations.  (Available in French)