Trade, Not Aid, Will Cure Latin Ills, Bush Says

From Reuters

President Bush today said he wants to bolster Latin American economies with a new partnership that includes a free trade zone encompassing the American hemisphere.

“The prosperity of our hemisphere depends on trade, not aid,” Bush said in an address to Latin American diplomats in the White House East Room.

“We must forge a genuine partnership for free-market reform,” he said.

Seeking to allay the fears of regional leaders that their problems have been overshadowed by the move toward democracy and market economies in most of Eastern Europe, Bush declared:


“We look forward to the day when not only are the Americas the first fully free democratic hemisphere--but when all are equal partners in a free trade zone stretching from the port of Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego.”

He said that barriers to free trade won’t fall overnight, but that Washington is prepared to enter free trade agreements with countries in Latin America.

Bush also said the Latin American “investment climate remains clouded by the heavy burden of debt” and announced “a major initiative to reduce Latin American and the Caribbean’s official debt to the United States.”

The new approach represents an implicit admission that the so-called Brady Plan for debt relief has fallen short of its goals.

That plan, unveiled by U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady in March, 1989, was intended to free funds for new investment by reducing the debt load of Latin American and other debtor nations through negotiations with creditor banks.