MERCOSUR y UE cerraron ronda negociadora con avances en algunas áreas

La séptima ronda de negociaciones entre UE y MERCOSUR para un acuerdo comercial finalizó el pasado viernes en Montevideo con progresos en algunas áreas a nivel normativo y la meta de intercambiar ofertas a mediados de 2012, dijo el jefe negociador europeo, Joao Aguiar Machado. “Fue bueno, avanzamos y hay que continuar, mucho trabajo por hacer”, explicando que “globalmente hay progresos en algunas áreas a nivel normativo” y que no se negoció el difícil tema de acceso a los mercados. En ese sentido, sostuvo que en la ronda que se desarrolló desde el lunes en la sede del MERCOSUR, se registraron avances en áreas de defensa comercial, competencia, servicios o reglas de origen. “También empezamos a encontrar un camino para algunos temas en los que hasta ahora no habíamos encontrado la mejor forma, como facilitación del comercio, medidas sanitarias”, admitiendo que “hay otros temas que continúan siendo difíciles de abordar, como propiedad intelectual o indicaciones geográficas. Son áreas difíciles para MERCOSUR y no tuvimos la posibilidad de avanzar”. El negociador europeo explicó que en esas áreas “hay enfoques distintos” entre el bloque europeo y el sudamericano, integrado por Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay y Uruguay. “Creo que poco a poco estamos aproximándonos a encontrar un método de trabajo que nos permita avanzar”. La próxima ronda será en Bruselas, 12 al 16 de marzo, cuando se buscará “avanzar lo máximo que se pueda en la parte de reglas, para después cuando venga el intercambio, pasar a la discusión de acceso” a mercados. Aguiar Machado afirmó que los negociadores siguen confiando intercambiar ofertas a mediados del año próximo. “El intercambio posiblemente será durante el verano (boreal)”. La UE y el MERCOSUR decidieron en 2010 reanudar las negociaciones, tras una suspensión de seis años, para cerrar un Acuerdo de Asociación, que además de una liberalización del comercio entre ambos bloques, incluye sendos capítulos de diálogo político y cooperación. (Fuente: AFP – 14/11/2011)


Europe’s Disaster Is Headed Our Way

As an author who has just published a book on the crisis of Western civilization, I couldn’t really have asked for more: simultaneous crises in Athens and Rome, cradles of the West’s law, languages, politics, and philosophy. Yet most Americans are baffled by the ongoing economic pandemonium in the European Union. For them, places like Greece and Italy are primarily tourist destinations they’ll visit at most once. The finer points of Mediterranean politics leave them cold, except insofar as they’re funny. After all, who could resist the opera-buffa character of Silvio “Bunga-Bunga” Berlusconi? (source: by Niall Ferguson – The Daily Beast – 13/11/2011)

But only a few weirdos really feel their pulses quicken when they hear news like: the new Greek prime minister is a former central banker called Papademos! Ever tried to explain to a New Yorker the finer points of Slovakian coalition politics? I have. He almost needed an adrenaline shot to come out of the coma. So why should Americans care about any of this? The first reason is that, with American consumers still in the doldrums of deleveraging, the United States badly needs buoyant exports if its economy is to grow at anything other than a miserably low rate. And despite all the hype about trade with Chinese, U.S. exports to the European Union are nearly three times larger than to China.

Until March, it seemed as if exports to Europe were on an upward trajectory, but Eurozone crisis has stopped the rising tendency. Governments that ran up excessive debts have seen their borrowing costs explode. Unable to devalue their currencies, they’ve been forced to adopt austerity measures, cutting spending or hiking taxes, in a vain effort to reduce their deficits. The result has been Depression economics: shrinking economies and unemployment rates approaching 20 percent. As a result, according to the new president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, a “double dip” recession in Europe is now all but inevitable. And that’s lousy news for US exporters targeting the EU market. But there’s more. Europe’s problem is not just that governments are overborrowed. There are an unknown number of European banks that are effectively insolvent if their holdings of government bonds are “marked to market”, in other words, valued at their current rock-bottom market prices. In our interconnected financial world, it would be very odd indeed if no US institutions were affected by this. Just as European institutions once loaded up on assets backed with subprime US mortgages, so most big U.S. banks have at least some exposure to eurozone bonds or banks. One institution, MF Global, run by former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, just blew up because of its highly levered euro bets. Others are biting their fingernails because it is suddenly far from clear that the credit default swaps they have bought as insurance against, say, a Greek default are worth the paper they are written on.

But the third reason Americans should care about Europe is more important even than the risk of a renewed financial crisis: it is the danger that what is happening in Europe today could ultimately happen here. Just a few months ago, almost nobody was worried about Italy’s vast debt, which amounts to 121 percent of GDP. Then suddenly panic set in, and Italy’s borrowing costs exploded from 3.5% to 7.5%. Today, the US gross federal debt stands at around 100 percent of GDP. Four years ago it was 62 percent. By 2016 the International Monetary Fund forecasts it will be 115 percent. Economists who should know better insist that this is not a problem because, unlike Italy, the United States can print its own money at will. All that means is that the US reserves the right to inflate or depreciate away its debt. If I were a foreign investor, and half the debt in public hands is held by foreigners, I would not find that terribly reassuring. At some point I might demand some compensation for that risk….”in the form of higher rates”. Athens, Rome, Washington…the shortest route from imperial capital to tourist destination is precisely this death spiral of debt. 

Denying Imbalances, G20 Risks Chaos – Part III

(…) Instead of new ideas to promote global growth, reduce imbalances and instill confidence, concrete measures with concrete results, governments are cloaking themselves with grandiose pronouncements about the future and imposing austerity. The two make a bad fit. Expressions of confidence by European leaders ring hollow as the reality, what matters to their populations, is that their countries probably won’t show any growth as a group, with Mario Draghi, the new president of the European Central Bank, talking of a mild recession. French Prime Minister François Fillon announced during the weekend that his government would pursue the most rigorous policies seen for 65 years. So far, “austerity” is a merely a word for most Europeans with their $2 trillion debt pile; as it bites in the coming year, the awakening will be harsh, with the mass protest reaction in the streets of Athens a likely harbinger. The wider but unacknowledged sub-text to this is the threat posed to the opening up the world, reaching far beyond economics to span popular culture, travel, sport, communications, and most other spheres of life from food to fashion. Critics see this process which has taken wing in the past decade as a hypocritical mask for American-led capitalism, and the downsides are evident. Yet the benefits are tangible from Beijing to Barcelona. Leave aside the obvious beneficiaries in rich world. In China more people have been made materially better off in a shorter space of time than ever before in human history. Earnings from trade enabled the Lula da Silva government to implement striking social programs. India’s GDP has more than trebled since 2000. In what seemed like an inevitable process are interlocking gears that gave work to tens of millions of Chinese assembling iPhones in Shenzhen, thousands or Brazilian suppliers of iron ore and soy, which can seize up when the grease that politicians should provide is lacking. The danger is that, when faced with harsher times and more difficult decisions, governments fall back on their domestic concerns, which make a mockery of the G20’s ambitions to forge global solutions to global problems. With elections in both the US and France in 2012 and the wholesale leadership change in China next autumn and then the federal election in Germany in 2013, the temptations for politicians to focus on inward issues is strong (…..)


Denying Imbalances, G20 Risks Chaos – Part.II & Part.I: