Friday, January 1, 2010

Evo Denounces Obama for APTDEA Lapse

Bolivian President Evo Morales lashed out against President Obama at a press conference on Thursday, December 31st in reference to Washington’s refusal to re-instate a preferential trade agreement called
APTDEA or the Andean Pact Trade and Drug Enforcement Agreement. This agreement offered tariff-free entry into the US for a wide range of Bolivian products, especially textiles, but was cancelled by President Bush and has not been renewed.

Evo called this “political revenge” and went on to say that when Obama was elected he had great hope that “A black man cannot exclude an indian” but that if something has changed in Washington it is only the color of the President. Perhaps these expressions hurt Obama, so if he has a certain social conscience and wants to revise the decision (about APTDEA) we would salute that.”

Bolivia-US relations have deteriorated over the past 5 years, and in 2008 Bolivia expelled the US ambassador accusing him of meddling in domestic political affairs and the US responded by expelling his Bolivian counterpart. Morales then announced that the US Drug Enforcement Agency had to leave Bolivia immediately and the US responded by permanently withdrawing the Peace Corps and allowing the APTDEA agreement to expire.

Washington and La Paz began a dialogue process in May of 2009 aimed at decreasing tensions that was supposed to result in a signed accord by November but so far nothing has come of it and the countries remain without ambassadors.

Bolivia claims to have lost some 15 million dollars of exports in 2008 from the loss of the APTDEA trade preferences; mainly in the textiles area. Evo pointed to the fact the exports to Venezuela have increased by 25 million dollars this year, offsetting APTDEA losses.

Bolivian exports to the US fell from 526 million dollars in 2008 to 450 million in 2009 but its unclear how much of this is from the global financial crisis and how much can be attributed to the loss of APTDEA.

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