Increasing EU Presence in Latin America

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Increasing EU Presence in Latin America

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In Brazil, the voters recently elected a leftist leader for the first time in their history. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared that combating poverty will be his first priority in South America's largest country.

According to Latin Trade Magazine (October 2002), 211 million people in Latin America are poor-that's 44 percent of the population. They are demanding that their leaders do something. All Latin American leaders agree that trade will be a key component to the turning around of their terrible economic performances and recurring economic collapses. Many nations in the region are racing to make trade deals to try to revive their stagnant economies and to compete in the global market.

Bible prophecy shows that international trade will indeed be pivotal to the health of the world's economy, revealing a coming massive economic system that will lift many nations to prosperity, even to luxury.

Neglect by the United States

"'The United States is no longer focusing efforts on Latin America,' says Thomas G. Travis of Sandler, Travis and Roseberg trade consultancy" (Latin Trade Magazine, October 2002). Confusion in the U.S. administration's Latin American policy has led to a wilting of U.S. influence and credibility throughout the region. "If you look at the events that are likely to dominate the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the near future, you will conclude that President Bush will not be able to return to his pre-Sept. 11 emphasis on Latin American affairs until at least early 2005, say Latin American officials" ("Region Expects More Neglect by U.S.," Miami Herald, Nov. 24, 2002).

Before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush said that this would be the "Century of the Americas." He envisioned that a Free Trade Area of the Americas would be in place by 2005, which would produce a market of 800 million people in the Americas, stretching from the Arctic to Antarctica. But since the terrorist attacks, the attention of the United States has shifted to fanatic Islamic terrorism, Iraq, the Middle East and North Korea.

Meanwhile, Latin America is suffering one of the worst economic crises of its history. Ironically, Congress recently granted the president fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals, but according to a recent New York Times article, the chances of negotiating such a far-reaching hemispheric deal are at best even. "With Latin American countries reeling from the global economic downturn, a financial meltdown in Argentina and distress in Brazil, disillusionment with free trade [with the U.S.] is running high in many quarters" ("Brazilian Rallying Neighbors Ahead of Meeting With Bush," Nov. 2, 2002).

The recently elected president of Brazil has been openly critical of the proposal of a Free Trade Area of the Americas, saying it would lead to the annexation of Latin America by the United States.

The neglect of Latin America by the United States at a time when the region needs the most help is allowing another world power to gain an advantage in trade and influence in the region.

Solidifying ties with Europe

Brazil's new president recently made an unofficial visit to Argentina and Chile, calling for a "new regional strategic relationship to allow us to retake control of our own destiny and build our own future. We are seeking true integration, following the example of the European Union," said Mr. da Silva (ibid.).

The Mercosur Trade Union, with members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and associate members Chile and Bolivia, is the world's third-largest trade group. The European Union has become Mercosur's leading trade partner since signing an accord in 1999.

Chile recently signed a big trade deal in May 2002 with Europe, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2003. According to Latin Trade Magazine, 95 percent of Chilean products bound for the European Union will be duty-free within three years, representing $17 billion in trade. Europe's billions of dollars of trade is a major portion of Latin America's business. In fact, European Union trade with Latin America doubled in the 10 years between 1990 and 2000.

Mexico already has signed a free trade deal with the EU that went into force on July 1, 2000. The EU is Mexico's second largest trading partner after the United States. EU companies have much the same access to the Mexican market as their NAFTA competitors. Mexico has become the world's ninth largest economy, mostly from the export of manufactured goods.

According to Fernando Cardesa, director of EU cooperation with Latin America, the European bloc has set the signing of free trade deals with all Latin American nations as a political goal. Europe's historical, cultural and religious ties with Latin America could lead to a future expansion of commerce between the two, resulting in a powerful trading bloc.

Prophesied prosperity

Latin American and other nations' desires to be free from the shackles of poverty and to be made rich through commerce will finally happen according to Bible prophecy. The 18th chapter of the book of Revelation describes a coming great religious-economic power, called by the symbolic name "Babylon," that will cause those nations associated with her to prosper. According to verse 3, trade and commerce will be a cornerstone of the relationship as the merchants (trade partners) become rich through their relationship with this great power.

It is only in the last decade that free trade between these nations has been promoted and now is increasing rapidly. Note the mysterious language of Revelation 18:9: "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning." And, verse 11, "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore."

The nations' anguish at the ceasing of trade and commerce with this Babylon shows how powerful it will be for a limited time in the near future: "They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate'" (verse 19). The merchants' lament that we read here is after the collapse of a super economic engine not yet built. The prophecy enigmatically gives us a glimpse of the end of the story, allowing us to project what happens beforehand-literally in the months and years ahead of us. The description of wealth acquired through trade will lift nations to the level of luxury until this Babylon falls.

(For an explanation of the strange-sounding symbolic language such as "fornication," as well as for the full details of this economic-religious system, see our booklet, The Book of Revelation Unveiled.)

The desire for increased free trade between Latin American nations and the EU is an interesting development in world news. This may seem to be a "sleeper issue" on today's turbulent world scene. But keep your eyes on future developments, as struggling Latin American nations work to make trade deals to lift their impoverished people from the ugly face of poverty. —WNP