U.S., Four Latin Countries to Sign Trade and Investment Framework Accord
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States and four South American nations want to use the state visit of Brazilian President Fernando Collor to sign a hemispheric free-trade and investment agreement.
The agreement is designed to harmonize the trade and investment policies of the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The pact was to be signed today during a White House ceremony.
The four South American countries are attempting to establish a common market among themselves by 1996. Under Bush’s Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, the United States has been promoting free trade with individual countries and with regional groupings as well.
The initiative also seeks to promote investment and to reduce Latin America’s official debt burden.
In welcoming Collor to the White House on Tuesday, Bush said the framework agreement ″is a significant step toward achieving our common goals and we look forward to this new era of enhanced cooperation,″
Collor also planned meetings with congressional leaders today and with leading figures from the U.S. private sector. The International Environmental Bureau was hosting a dinner in his honor tonight.
Based on Collor’s opening day activities, relations between the hemisphere’s two most populous nations appear to be at a high point. The rhetoric on both sides was glowing and U.S. officials said the democratic evolution in Brazil after long years of military dictatorship has contributed to the improved climate.
During the period of Brazil’s military rule, from 1964 to 1985, U.S.-Brazilian ties often were strained by disputes over human rights, trade and Brazil’s nuclear program.
At 41, Collor projects a far different image than the series of aging generals who ran Brazil for two decades. He has had some success in reducing inflation and the budget deficit but the country has been plagued by deep recession and an external debt of $120 billion.
Bush said Tuesday the relationship ″has never been better.″ Tuesday night, at a White House dinner in his honor that featured Maryland crab meat and cucumber mousse, Collor said ″We have a long history of friendship cooperation in common, but we must do more, much more and we will do it.″
″I sincerely hope that our re-encounter together inaugurates a new partnership between the people of our two nations,″ Collor said.
In his remarks to the gathering, Bush said ″President Collor, I salute you for your efforts to invigorate your political system, your firm commitment to free people and free markets, your determination to raise environmental awareness both at home and abroad.″
The latter was a reference to Collor’s efforts to protect the Amazon rain forest by slowing down development activities.