) President Barack Obama decided to maintain a suspension of Bolivia's preferred trade status - a move that has cost the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, $25 million in annual trade benefits and potentially 20,000 jobs.
In a report released by the U.S. Trade Representative on Tuesday, the Obama Administration outlined its reasons for refusing Bolivian exporters duty free access to U.S. markets under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act.
The ATPDEA program was enacted in 1991 to encourage four Andean nations - Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru - to cooperate with the U.S. in drug eradication and counter-trafficking efforts.
However, the U.S. cited several reasons - not exclusively related to Bolivian drug policy - to justify the continuation of a suspension instituted by the Bush Administration last October.
In addition to criticizing Bolivia's coca growing policy - the report named Bolivia's nationalization of its hydrocarbon sector, withdrawal from the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and a new five-tier tariff strategy as other determining factors.
On Wednesday, President Morales accused Obama of lying about his pledge to change U.S. policy towards Latin America. "President Obama lied to Latin America when he told us in Trinidad and Tobago that there are not senior and junior partners," wrote Carlos Valdez of the Associated Press. He continued by stating that the report contained "pure lies and insults".
President Obama had until June 30 to determine whether trade preferences should be reinstated. Bolivia's ATPDEA preferences expired on December 15, 2008 and can only be reinstated by the President.
This recent decision by the U.S. government will likely effect the progress of normalizing diplomatic relations with Bolivia. Both countries had commenced efforts to reestablish diplomatic ties after their respective ambassadors were expelled in September 2008.
Last week, the Bolivian government announced it would provide an additional $8 million to a state fund designed to aid exporters impacted by loss of ATPDEA benefits.
Labels: karah woodward Bolivia U.S. ATPDEA Morales coca