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Daily News - 28 August 2002

The judges go to the jails
If the mountain can’t go to Mahoma, Mahoma will go to the mountain. The Supreme Court of Justice is going ahead with a pilot program to bring the courts to the jails. Jorge Subero, president of the Supreme Court of Justice announced the start of a pilot program that will send judges to the jails to expedite the processing of inmates. The transporting of inmates to the courts is one of the biggest obstacles to the administering of justice. Today, of 17,000 inmates only 30% have been sentenced and 70% are in jail awaiting the processing of their cases. 
The program seeks to relieve the congestion of the jails. The program is to begin at San Cristobal Najayo Jail. The jail was originally built for 700 inmates and today houses 3,000. 
Subero said up next will be La Victoria, the largest jail in the country, followed by Monte Plata. 
Judge Esther Agelan Casasnovas will be in charge of the first phase of the program in which seven judges will take part. 

Juan Dolio expressways
The government formally inaugurates today the Autovia del Este and the Boulevard de la Costa, the RD$1.9 billion expressway and coastal highway expansion going east from Santo Domingo. The Autovia del Este is a 12.5 kilometer four-lane expressway from the Boca Chica rotunda to the Higuamo bridge near San Pedro de Macoris. It cuts driving time from Santo Domingo to La Romana by about half an hour. The Boulevard de la Costa – formally a two-lane highway – is now expanded to four lanes. This highway is for those headed to the Juan Dolio tourism spots. The project also included the construction of four traffic distributors and three underpasses.

Days of neo-colonialism?
In an editorial today, the Listin Diario protests that the government may be leaning towards continuing to favor the power distributors versus the bulk of paying consumers. 
The newspaper says that the government apparently has accepted to again levy bill-paying consumers for the consumption of the low-income barrios. The Listin protests that the government should have obliged the distributors to meet their contractual obligations. Recently, Elena Viyella, new president of the Association of Industries criticized that the power distributors have not made the infrastructure investments they were contracted to carry out nor have fulfilled their commitment to implement effective billing systems. The power companies need to improve power lines and install individual meters in the barrios, but apparently are not willing to make these investments. 
The Listin Diario says that instead, the companies are making multi-million dollar repatriations of their earnings. 
The Listin says that all the power distributors had to do to twist the arm of government was cut the power to the barrios causing uprisings in protest for the very few hours of power they were receiving. 
The Listin says the Dominican Republic is now living an era of neo-colonialism, referring to the dominance of the Spanish multinationals in the power market and their negative effects on all sectors in the country.

Working towards the FTAA
Trade technicians from 34 regional countries are meeting at the Hotel Jaragua today for the 11th Meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) at the Vice-ministerial level. The TNC has the responsibility for guiding the work of the negotiating groups and of deciding on the overall architecture of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and institutional issues. Minister of Foreign Relations Hugo Tolentino Dipp will render the keynote address opening the event today. The closed-door sessions will continue through Friday, 30 August. The Dominican delegation to the events is headed by Santiago Tejada, who’s responsible for trade negotiations at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. 

Hugo Guiliani on new trade strategy
After years of coherent trade policy at the side of the Caricom and Central American bloc of nations, the private sector protectionist measures with the support of the government led Central America to distance itself from the Dominican Republic in trade negotiations and exclude the DR from talks leading to a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. 
In an interview with Hoy newspaper today, the appointed Dominican ambassador to the United States, Hugo Guiliani confirms that the fear of isolation has in turn moved the government to seek a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States and explains the motivations for the shift in trade strategy. 
Guiliani seems to now be at the head of the new trade strategy of the Dominican Republic. High on his agenda as new ambassador to Washington, D.C. is the opening of talks with the United States for a bilateral trade agreement. 
Seeking the favor of the US, the DR recently has distanced itself from a previous position of solidarity with the Caribbean bloc of nations and even made major agricultural concessions. In the interview, Guiliani explains that, contrary to the Dominican Republic, Caricom countries have no interest in a FTA with the United States because they produce or export very little. He says Europe buys their product at subsidized prices. 
The situation is very different for the Dominican Republic, whose main trading partner is the United States. Not being isolated is a crucial point for the Dominican Republic.
But Guiliani admits that the US has already decided which countries get priority in the signing of free trade agreements and which it will exclude as it seeks trade advantages for its own exports.
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has announced that Chile and Central America in the Americas, as well as Singapore and Morocco will be the next FTAs the US will sign. Guiliani believes the US will conclude these FTAs, including the treaty with Central America prior to the completion of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Guiliani is optimistic the Dominican Republic could soon be included in this list. 
But others in the know, caution that the Dominican Republic could be falling prey to the divide-and-conquer strategy of US trade negotiators as they threaten isolation to seek important trade concessions. In the past, this strategy has been successful in dividing Mercosur and major Latin American trade partners as explained in an August 2002 report from the Dante Fascell North South Center of the University of Miami (see http://www.dr1.com/news/2002/FTAA_OAS_2002.pdf )
With only a promise of being considered for inclusion in the list of bilateral trade agreements, the Dominican Republic has already been making considerable trade concessions as it distances itself from the achievements accomplished by Caricom negotiators in areas of agriculture and antidumping measures. 
The Dominican Republic has turned its back to the Caricom strong stand for concessions to be made to the smaller economies especially for agricultural goods as talks continue for the signing of the FTAA. 
Caricom’s concern is a real one for the Dominican Republic too. Caricom is concerned that the current proposals before the FTAA would result in exposure of their domestic agricultural industries to withering competition from imports, without the other sources of support for agriculture, such as subsidies, that larger countries have. 
Caricom, which asked for more time to accommodate the capacity constraints of the smaller countries, was granted an extended deadline of December 14, 2002. But the Dominican Republic could now be excluded from these benefits lured by a real or fictitious carrot of a bilateral trade agreement with the United States.
Frederic Emam Zade, former Dominican Republic trade negotiator, says that complacency without concrete achievements does not pay off in trade negotiations with the United States. He warns: “Those who know the US idiosyncrasy well, know that they only respect those who command respect and they have a history of leaving their closest allies on a hook when they no longer need them because they have already obtained what they wanted.”

Promoting Scandinavian business
The Scandinavian and Baltic Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic announced the celebration of the Renewable Energy Seminar (SIES 2002). Upon making the announcement, Christian Dörffer, president of the Chamber, explains that the conference focuses on the availability, feasibility, and impact of sustainable energy in the Dominican Republic. It seeks to introduce advances in wind, hydroelectric, and solar energy, as well as other sustainable energy sources to the Dominican market. 
The conference is the first organized by the Chamber that was founded in January 2002 after Scandinavian companies doing business in the Dominican Republic (namely Maersk-Sealand, Bang & Olufsen, Ericsson and Wartsila) saw that there were many more outstanding business opportunities for northern Europe companies in the Dominican Republic. The Chamber is also actively seeking to develop Dominican exports to Scandinavia and the Baltics. 
For more information about this event and the Scandinavian-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican republic, call Tel. 809 732-1234 #2005 or fax 809 541-2743. 

Enrique Iglesias booked at Altos de Chavon
The Listin Diario reports that leading Latin pop star Enrique Iglesias will perform on 3 November at the Altos de Chavon amphitheater in La Romana. Iglesias will be in La Romana as part of a Latin American and Caribbean tour that is also bringing him to Panama, Puerto Rico and Trinidad. For more information, see http://www.enriqueiglesias.com/
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