This is a long piece, but about an issue I have been working on which is very poorly analysed in the local media as you will see...
The attacks came in swift and hard. The Bolivian government is committing “commercial suicide,” said the Bolivian Chamber of Exporters (IBCE), saying it was “one of the most unfortunate steps in the recent history of integration.” Opposition Congress Deputy Rodrigo Paz said the President Morales’ actions would lead to the “loss of a market of more than 400 million people, loss of investments for creating jobs and a series of problems in the area of aid.” Bolivian newspaper, La Razon concluded that Bolivia “little by little was closing the doors to all consumer markets of the world.”
The vocal nature of the backlash was shrill enough to suggest that Bolivia had announced the end of external trade. Yet all the Bolivian Government had done was explain that, in negotiations for an Association Agreement with the European Union, it was not prepared to negotiate away State control on issues of intellectual property, state purchases or procurement, international arbitration of investments and public services.
Bolivia made these declarations in a meeting in La Paz at the end of May 2007 of the Joint Commission of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Andean Nations (CAN). These two regional blocks have been working towards the beginning of negotiations for an Association Agreement since meeting in Guadalajara in 2004. The Bolivian Government also had said that whilst different countries within CAN could negotiate what they wanted (Peru and Colombia have raised no objections to negotiating all areas demanded by the EU), countries could not agree to proposals that would require changes to Andean community law unless this was agreed by the whole Andean community.
In response, Peru and Colombia threatened to go it alone with the negotiations unless Bolivia came up with a more “flexible position.”