US cuts preferential trade with Bolivia because of failure to cooperate in war on drugs
By Latin American Herald Tribune staff
Bolivia's textile exports to Venezuela next year will be double what the country was selling to the U.S. under an agreement that Washington is suspending, the Bolivian Government predicted today.
Bolivian Vice Minister Huáscar Ajta, who overseas exports for the landlocked nation, said at the close of the first round of the Bolivia-Venezuela Business Fair in La Paz that the nearly $47 million in sales agreed in the event represent "double what is being exported in textiles and manufacturing to United States via ATPDEA. "
ATPDEA is the acronym of the 17 year old Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Agreement that the US has with Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, but that the U.S. has decided not to renew with Bolivia because the country is not contributing in the fight against drugs.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has worked on anti-drug efforts in Bolivia for the past 25 years, pulled out of the country, under attack, in June. In September, socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales kicked out the American ambassador, Philip Goldberg. (Venezuela's Chavez also expelled its US ambassador the same day, in "sympathy with our Bolivian brother."). On November 1st , Morales kicked out agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, saying that they, like the US ambassador, were all conspiring against him and working on his overthrow. The U.S., meanwhile, declared Bolivia unco-operative on drugs and announced plans to suspend tariff preferences for Bolivia’s imports.
Looking for another outlet for the jobs intensive export market, Ajta noted with satisfaction that the total trade agreed to at the business roundtable with Venezuela -- which will be signed within the framework of Chavez' Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the Trade Treaty of Peoples (TCP) -- "is three times what Bolivia exported to Venezuela in textiles and manufacturing " previously.
For her part, Venezuelan Minister of Production Susana Rivero said that Venezuela "is not a substitute" for the United States, but "a new market with new conditions, with many facilities."
"This is an agreement that will allow the export sector -- even if there is a financial crisis -- to not be affected," she claimed.
Last year, U.S. imports from Bolivia totaled $362.6 million. That included $73 million worth of jewelry and about $20 million of clothing and household textile goods, as well as $64 million of tin and $46 million of crude oil. It is estimated that more than 30,000 jobs in Bolivia depend on duty-free exports to the United States.