Pigs lining up at the trough

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Oct 10 12:10:59 MDT 2000

USA TODAY, October 10, 2000, Tuesday, FIRST EDITION

Rebuilding Yugoslavia U.S. may lift sanctions, opening $4B market

Dina Temple-Raston and Bill Nichols

The Clinton administration may lift some sanctions imposed against
Yugoslavia during the 1999 Kosovo war as early as today, a move that could
open the door for U.S. firms to bid on $ 4 billion in reconstruction
projects there.

While European companies, already busy with Balkan projects, have a
home-court advantage, U.S. companies such as infrastructure specialists
Brown & Root, AES and General Electric could get a piece of the action.

The big winners: telecommunications companies, construction firms, banks
and shipping concerns who can rebuild the Danube River bridges, power
plants and refineries destroyed by NATO airstrikes.

In the first step toward opening investment, European foreign ministers in
Luxembourg said Monday that they would end the ban on oil exports and
commercial flights to Yugoslavia and lift financial restrictions on Serbian
businesses that do not have links to former president Slobodan Milosevic.

The United States is expected to follow suit. Likely to be eased:
restrictions on oil, flights and U.S. investment in Yugoslav companies,
Clinton aides say. Now, there is a general ban on trade with Yugoslavia.

"I'm not sure whether we will match up precisely, sanction for sanction,"
said White House spokesman Jake Siewert. "To the extent that we have
sanctions that we can lift and be able to improve the lives of the Serbian
people, those are the types of sanctions that we are focused on."

Economic shambles

Though the bombs stopped falling on Belgrade months ago, the Yugoslav
infrastructure is still limping. Telephone service is patchy;
reconstruction of bombed-out bridges is moving at a glacial pace; and a
dearth of simple supplies has created a flourishing, mostly cash, black
market economy.

That's why European companies such as Telecom Italia, Italy's biggest phone
concern, and Germany's Commerzbank have an eye on Yugoslavia. Doing
business there, however, won't be easy. While the Yugoslav economy grew
2.6% in 1998, it contracted by 23.2% in 1999 largely because of sanctions
and the damage inflicted by the war, according to International Monetary
Fund figures.

A second wave of sanctions -- including a ban on Yugoslavia's membership in
world financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF -- could be
lifted in the coming weeks, Clinton aides say.

Freshly minted President Vojislav Kostunica has called for a conference to
raise at least $ 500 million for Yugoslavia. Western leaders have already
convened several aid summits for the Balkans over the past year. The
European Union said it would send a mission to Yugoslavia with the World
Bank to work out an aid program.

Louis Proyect
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