Saturday, August 22, 2009

The SPP is dead; long live the PPA

Last week, the official US home of the SPP, read:
"The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is no longer an active initiative and as such this website will act as an archive for SPP documents. There will not be any updates to this site."
This week it seems they did think of a site update after all. :
"Going forward, we want to build on the accomplishments achieved by the SPP and further improve our cooperation."
We are then redirected to the Joint Statement by the North American Leaders (August 10, 2009) :

"Our three governments recognize that we cannot limit our efforts to North America alone, and we have agreed to instruct our respective Ministers to strive for greater cooperation and coordination as we work to promote security and institutional development with our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean ...

We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline. "

So in other words - expanding some version of the SPP of North America to include Central and South America as well.
Didn't this used to be called the FTAA, the spectacularly FAIL Free Trade Area of the Americas ?
Up here this went : "We, the democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, have met in Quebec City at our Third Summit, to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration." ... followed by 100,000+ protesters, rubber bullets, and so much tear gas that the we-the-democratically-elected could smell it inside their summit.

Enter FTAA Plan B. In Sept 2008 Bush announced The Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas, from the headquarters of the corporate lobby group Council of the Americas.
Current PPA member states : US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay

Heide Bronke, U.S. State Department :
''Eleven leaders in the hemisphere met with our president and stood with him in a project aimed at expanding economic integration. This is not just free trade, it's a political vision for the hemisphere."
The rightwing Heritage Foundation : Finding Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas
"The PPA is an attempt to re-energize U.S. government and regional efforts to enlarge a free trade area in the Western Hemisphere and create positive momentum for open-market policies that will carry over into the next Administration.

Styled in part after other current efforts to improve economic relations with key trade and investment partners--such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) - the PPA would provide a forum for not only finding avenues to improve the flow of commerce but also promoting greater coherence and consistency in the rules specified under the five separate free trade agreements (FTAs) that currently define trade between PPA members. With the basic trade agreements already in place, members of the PPA can focus on dismantling remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that business is able to take advantage of new opportunities brought by lower trade and investment barriers.

On a grander scale, success under the PPA could result in new momentum for concluding a broader Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)."

So did the PPA successfully "carry over into the next Administration"?

Address of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial, May 31, 2009
US State Dept website :

"President Obama has emphasized that it's not important whether ideas come from one party or another, so long as they move us in the right direction. This meeting builds on the work of the previous U.S. administration, but the President and I are also committed to re-launching Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas and expanding its work to spread the benefits of economic recovery, growth, and open markets ..."
Elsewhere Senator Clinton has described the Pathways to Prosperity accord as "a multilateral initiative to promote shared security and prosperity throughout the Americas".
Speaking of the SPP and North America as a shared economic space last year, Thomas Shannon of the State Department told Linda Carlsen at the Center for International Policy:
"What we’re doing, in some way, in a certain respect, is armoring NAFTA."

Alliance for Responsible Trade :

"The PPA bears many of the hallmarks of the SPP. According to the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, the PPA is "based on two similar components to the SPP: on one hand an economic, mercantile and financial agenda covered by the term ‘prosperity', and on the other a ‘security' agenda of enhancing military and police powers to combat terrorism, narcotraffic, illegal migration, etc.." The PPA, like the SPP, is little more than an attempt to justify economic deregulation and to promote an escalation of militarism in the region."
Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians writes The SPP is dead, so where's the champagne? :

Ok, just one glass of champagne, Stuart, but then as you say : Back to work.
Because we don't care what it's called : SPP, North American Union, deep integration, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas. We don't care. Really. Call it whatever you like.

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