- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

Free trade by 2005
Chilean Ambassador Andres Bianchi is hoping that Summit of the Americas beginning today will lead to a free trade agreement in four years, even if some countries delay implementing all of its provisions.
Mr. Bianchi believes that compromise would allow flexibility for countries that have not yet made the economic reforms needed to compete throughout the Western Hemisphere.
"It means not all sections of the agreement would be in force immediately in the year 2005," he told a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations this week.
"That, I think, would give some flexibility to countries that have different views and different interests on different topics.
"They could accept the whole package in 2005, knowing that implementation of the sections will not start exactly on the same day."
Other participants in the panel discussion on the Quebec City summit were worried about disruptions by anti-capitalist protesters, who want to attach strict labor and environmental standards to the trade deal.
Free-trade advocates say those demands could stifle the competitiveness of poor countries with cheap labor.
"The demonstrations are going to be a problem in terms of public perception of whether the summit is a success or not," said the Councils Bruce Stokes.
Thomas McLarty III, President Clintons Latin America envoy, predicted that labor and environmentalists "will have to be accommodated in some measure" to achieve a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.
Meanwhile the Cato Institute argued that the protesters are ignorant of the benefits of free trade for poor nations.
"Hurtling oneself against a police barricade in protest of free trade is great fun," said policy analyst Aaron Lukas. "But it is hardly a brave act for spoiled children of affluence to blindly rail against the instruments of their own prosperity."
Cato also released its annual "Economic Freedom of the World" report, which shows only four of the 34 nations that will be represented today and tomorrow have truly free markets.
They are the United States, Argentina, Bolivia and Canada.

Russia on track

A planned Washington visit by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov shows that U.S.-Russian relations are "back on track" only weeks after a major spy scandal, the State Department said yesterday.
Mr. Ivanov will meet Secretary of State Colin Powell on May 17 or 18, depending on final scheduling arrangements, spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"The relationship as weve said before is back on track. We are working with the Russians again on areas where we need to work. Its a very important relationship to us," Mr. Boucher said.
The announcement of his visit yesterday came about a month after the United States and Russia expelled 50 of each others diplomats, accusing them of spying.
The diplomatic dispute led many analysts to predict the beginning of a new Cold War.

Mbeki plans visit

South African President Thabo Mbeki plans to visit President Bush later this year to build on a "foundation" of diplomatic relations laid by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Washington this week.
"The visit is definitely on. We are just trying to synchronize dates," Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma told reporters after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Mr. Mbeki, who made a state visit to the United States last year, first met Mr. Bush when he was campaigning for the presidency.
The foreign minister said she believes Mr. Bush is committed to maintaining strong relations with all of Africa.
She said the meeting with Mr. Powell "laid the foundation for future dealings" with the Bush administration.
Mr. Powell "also expressed the fact that South Africa has a responsibility in terms of working toward the betterment of the continent," she added.

Bush to Spain

President Bush will add Spain to a trip he plans to make to Europe in June, the White House announced yesterday.
Mr. Bush was already planning to visit Poland and Belgium on his trip to the European Union summit meeting June 15 and 16 in Sweden.

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