- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 1999

No free-trade lunch

The Brazilian ambassador was shocked at the scene in Seattle.
“In 40 years in the foreign service, I never saw anything like that,” Ambassador Rubens Antonio Barbosa told editors and reporters at a luncheon at The Washington Times yesterday.
Mr. Barbosa, a member of the Brazilian delegation to the World Trade Organization summit, was caught up by street demonstrations as were other international representatives to the economic forum.
“We were blocked by demonstrators. They prevented us from entering the [convention] center until 3 or 4 in the afternoon,” he said, referring to the demonstrations that nearly shut down the summit before it opened Nov. 30.
He criticized Seattle authorities for letting the demonstrations grow violent. More than 30,000 protesters stormed downtown Seattle on the first day of the summit.
“When they realized the numbers were enormous and the violence, then it went out of control, the police were slow to react,” he said.
By the end of the week, “the fight was between the demonstrators and the police, and they forgot about the WTO,” he said.
Mr. Barbosa said he was amused by some of the protest signs.
His favorite one read: “There is no free-trade lunch.”
A full story on Mr. Barbosa’s visit to The Times appears in today’s World section.

Free-trade security

Ambassador Barbosa, in his remarks at The Times yesterday, urged the United States to take South America more seriously in forming foreign policy. His views are reflected in a report due out today that argues for more attention to security issues in the hemisphere.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) focuses on the quest for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by 2005, a goal set at a Miami summit in 1994.
The report, “Thinking Strategically About 2005: The United States and South America,” says the “road to [the FTAA] is far too open-ended to be left to economics alone.”
“The magnitude of hemispheric trade negotiations … requires a secure regional political base and an inherently strategic articulation of the objectives of the FTAA process,” CSIS said in announcing the release of its report.
The report opens with a forward written by David Abshire, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and President Clinton’s former chief of staff, Thomas F. McLarty, who also served as White House coordinator on Latin America issues.
Mr. Abshire is scheduled to present the report at 8:30 a.m. in room HC-6 of the Capitol.

Moseley-Braun arrives

Carol Moseley-Braun, the controversial former Democratic senator from Illinois, arrived in New Zealand this week to take up her post as the new U.S. ambassador.
One of her first chores will be to try to save a deal for the lease of 28 U.S. F-16 jet fighters that was signed by the previous National Party government. The current Labor government wants to review the deal.
Mrs. Moseley-Braun had difficulty being confirmed by the Senate when several members questioned her ethics over the suspected misuse of campaign funds. Her nomination cleared the Senate after the White House presented documentation from a Justice Department investigation into the charges.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, continued to oppose her nomination.

Break up Daewoo

Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, yesterday urged the government to speed up the restructuring of the debt-ridden Daewoo Group, South Korea’s second largest conglomerate.
“Korea’s international audience will be watching closely to see whether nonviable firms are liquidated in an orderly fashion and not allowed to continue consuming scarce capital,” Mr. Bosworth told a seminar in Seoul.
The government in July promised that Daewoo, with $8.3 billion in debts, will be broken up.
“Major operational restructuring will also be necessary, and Daewoo affiliates must be subjected to market-based discipline,” Mr. Bosworth said.

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