(posted Oct. 26, 1:30 p.m.)- A high-level trade meeting held this morning in Colombia between U.S. and Nicaraguan officials neatly illustrates the import role that commerce plays in keeping bilateral relations from falling apart completely.
The meeting, which was organized by the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), brought together U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Walter Bastian, Nicaraguan presidential delegate Alvaro Baltodano, AMCHAM’s Yalí Molina and Cesar Zamora, and representatives of both countries’ embassies.
The nearly two-hour sitdown, which took place after the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Cali, was the highest level meeting between the two countries in several years. It demonstrates the increasingly important role that commerce plays in maintaining a line of communication between the two governments.
The meeting was described as frank, cordial, fluid and friendly.
“This is without a doubt the only good part of the relationship between Nicaragua and the United States,” said one source.
In the 1980s, the United States placed an economic embargo against Nicaragua but the two countries maintained a high level of political communication, even during war. Today the relationship is just the opposite and is based almost entirely on commerce. The line for political communication between Washington and Managua, meanwhile, seems to have been disconnected on both ends. Even the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua—once a prominent and visible role—now keeps a very low public profile.
On a commercial level, however, relations are quite good, thanks in good part to the efforts of Gen. Baltodano and ProNicaragua. AMCHAM is also trying to promote the things that are working well in Nicaragua.
“Although we don’t deny that we need to improve on issues related to rule of law, institutionalism and judicial security, we also have many points to promote investment, especially from the United States, such as security, labor conditions and the will of people who want to improve their lives,” said Yalí Molina, president of AMCHAM. “We have to take maximum advantage of CAFTA and that’s what we are trying to do, among other things, in this meeting in Cali.”
This morning’s meeting between the US and Nicaragua commercial delegations focused on property issues, customs issues and energy. Neither countries upcoming elections were discussed.
While commercial relations are reportedly solid, the private sector hopes that political relations between Managua and Washington can be eventually be mended.