Nicaragua: civil society prepares response to free trade negotiations

 Free trade negotiations between Central American countries and the United States, due to take place in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua from 15 to 19 September, will be met with protests and alternative proposals from civil society, reports independent news service Contacto Sur, a CIIR/ICD partner. During the new round of negotiations, civil society organisations will present a proposal to the Nicaraguan delegates, demanding a postponement of free trade agreements. Farming organisations, among others, have stated that they will not back down until the Nicaraguan government agrees to protect national agricultural production and define a clear policy on diversification. Federation of Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperatives president Sinforiano Cáceres said that the Nicaraguan government must reach a consensus with the agricultural sector as to which areas of the market could be opened to the US. ''Our recommendation is: one, that they [basic food products] should be excluded from the treaty; two, that we do not negotiate as long as the USA refuses to end its own internal agricultural subsidies; and three, that an aid package should be negotiated in order to help farmers achieve higher productivity and more diversification,'' said Cáceres. The opposition Sandinista delegation supported the proposed suspension of free trade agreements. They recommended that any agreement should promote jobs, food sovereignty and the protection of the agricultural industry in poorer countries. The agricultural and social sectors of Nicaraguan society are planning a national demonstration to protest against the way in which the negotiations are developing, and to hand in their alternative proposals to the Nicaraguan Congress. Contacto Sur is an independent news service that transmits reports from 30 local correspondents across the continent and is part of the Latin American Association of Radio Education (ALER), a CIIR/ICD partner based in Quito, Ecuador. Source: CIIR

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