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Brazzil - Economy - September 2003
 

Brazil's Lula to Bush: Stop Subsidies

Brazilians want a greater access to world markets in order to
compete on an equal footing with the rich countries in
agrobusiness. Farmers and ranchers in the US and the EU
receive generous subsidies for what they produce. Brazil's
message is: "if agriculture isn't negotiated, nothing will be."

AB

 

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received a telephone call from the president of the United States, George W. Bush, and gave him a hard message: if there is no progress with regard to the barriers Brazilian farm exports face, there will not be any progress in other areas of the negotiations at the V Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization which begins September 10 in Cancun, Mexico.

Lula said the declaration by the head of the WTO on agriculture was "unsatisfactory." but that the meeting was a valuable opportunity to prepare for the next phase in the Doha Round. However, Lula made it clear that Brazil wants progress at Cancun, before a continuation of Doha: "Together with other developing nations, Brazil has made a proposal that will allow us to advance on this question," said Lula.

Bush told Lula that US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, will attempt to work with Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, to reach a consensus at Cancun. Lula said Amorim was willing to work for a consensus. "Brazil wants to preserve and strengthen the WTO and multilateral commerce," declared Lula.

Bush also told Lula that he was satisfied with the understandings reached in Geneva on Trade Related Intellectual Property and Public Health.

CNA Has Backers

The Agriculture and Livestock Confederation of Brazil (CNA) is seeking the support of private international institutions on behalf of the official Brazilian proposal that will be taken to the Cancun Conference. The CNA defends the proposal of the G-20 (group of developing countries) opposing the subsidies rich countries grant their agricultural production in areas "that cause distortions in world prices."

Up to now, 15 private institutions have endorsed the document prepared by the CNA. The Confederation calls for greater access to world markets in order to compete on an equal footing with the rich countries in agrobusiness.

Farmers and ranchers in the United States and the European Union receive generous subsidies for what they produce. The CNA, together with the Brazilian government, calls for the rich countries to reduce their concession of agricultural subsidies. The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply, Roberto Rodrigues, has already affirmed that "if agriculture isn't negotiated, nothing will be."

Based on the same principle, the CNA launched the "Document in Support of the G-20 Framework for Agricultural Negotiations in the Doha Round of the WTO," to bring together private entities from all the countries in the group. That is, to reject the joint proposal presented by the United States and the European Union in favor of subsidies.

The head of the CNA's Department of International Affairs and Foreign Trade, Antônio Donizeti Bedraldo, considers the G-20 proposal timid in terms of opening markets, but it makes up for this failing in its focus on combating agricultural subsidies. "The joint proposal for agriculture by the United States and the European Union simply accommodates the agricultural situations that already exist in these countries. It changes the appearance, but maintains the essence, of protectionism.

The agricultural sector of the G-20 is responsible for 12.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the group. This figure is six times greater than that of the United States and the European Union. The members of the G-20, besides Brazil, are: South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Guatemala, Paraguay, Thailand, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, and Venezuela.

Chamber Position

Brazil's Foreign Trade Chamber met recently to hone Brazil's position at the V Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun.

That position will consist of a strong attack on agricultural barriers. Brazil will argue that the removal of such barriers is essential for free trade, as well as for developing nations that are capable of being competitive in the agricultural sector. Brazil's argument is supported by a group that has become known as the G-20, twenty developing nations that export farm produce.

However, the world's biggest economies—the US, Japan and Western Europe—are opposed. "They are offering some help to very poor nations, and asking us to wait. But we are convinced that there has to be an opening in the agricultural sector now. Without that opening we cannot advance on other issues," explains the executive secretary of Camex, Mario Mugnaini Junior.

Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, says that Brazil is going to Cancun to fight for the total elimination of all forms of farm export subsidies, especially those in the United States and the European Union.

Amorim described the subsidies as malevolent to Brazilian interests in the agricultural sector in testimony at the Chamber of Deputies.

 

The material for this article was supplied by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lucas@radiobras.gov.br

 









 
 
 







 



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