"The lack of an agreement on reducing agricultural subsidies at Cancun puts the World Trade Organization in
check," says minister of Agriculture, Robert Rodrigues, who was a member of the Brazilian delegation at the meeting [V
Ministerial Meeting, was its official title]. According to Rodrigues, the WTO has "put the effective discussion of issues on hold." And he adds that although
technical groups continue to work adequately, developed nations have not given importance to WTO activities.
Rodrigues called the creation of the G-21, led by Brazil, emblematic. "For the first time a powerful group of
countries followed the lead of Brazil in a consistent action. That was something new for the whole world. It turned out to be the
highlight of the meeting," said the minister.
The creation of the G-21 has been celebrated by the government of Brazil because the group represents half the
world's population and almost half its agricultural production. That is true because of the presence of India and China in the group. Rodrigues said that the firm position of the G-21 against agricultural subsidies was the main reason developed
nations were unable to dominate the meeting. "That is an important feat," he said.
With the collapse of Cancun, further discussions will take place in Geneva where a meeting is scheduled for
December. Rodrigues says the debate on the farm issue will continue there. In conclusion Rodrigues said that the failure in Cancun will result in countries seeking bilateral solutions to
compensate for the weakness of the multilateral formula.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva praised the performamce of the Brazilian delegation at the V Ministerial
Meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, saying that the characteristic of Brazilian foreign policy is a firm
negotiating stance. "That was exactly what Furlan (minister of Development), Roberto Rodrigues (minister of Agriculture), and
Celso Amorim (Foreign Relations) did. This is hardball and we know that you do not win if you do not play hard," said the president.
You have to play hard and refuse to take off your shoes, added Lula, in reference to the fact that former Foreign
Minister, Celso Lafer, had to remove his shoes for a security check in an American airport shortly after 9/11. "The first thing I
told my minister Celso Amorim was that no body was going to respect somebody who took off his shoes in an airport. A
cabinet-level official could not take off his shoes in an airport anywhere in the world because of customs rules. If he did, he
immediately lost 50 percent of his moral and ethical authority. We believe in respect, we want to respect everybody, but we
want others to respect us. We refuse to be treated like inferiors," said the President.
Lula made his remarks at the opening of the 37th Expo Abras (a supermarket fair). "We are not out to win. We just
want fair play because we can compete. And you can count on me in the fight for competitivity. I am with you on this," said
Lula went on to say that nowadays in Brazil there is no more room for crybabies or passing the buck. People have to
see what the problems are and then do what has to be done. "We all have to be responsible," said the president, and stop
blaming the governor, the president, the IMF.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva concluded by praising the supermarket sector for its partnership efforts in combating
hunger and illiteracy. "This is an example of how people can take responsibility and reduce two of Brazil's historical problems:
hunger and illiteracy," said the President.
Lula has begun a series of foreign trips that are seen as important for Brazilian policy and commerce. First stop is in Colombia.
In Bogota Lula will participate in the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the International Coffee Organization,
which has long been a strong tie between Brazil and its neighbor. During talks with President Alvaro Uribe, Lula will attempt
to bring the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and Mercosur closer together as part of a larger effort to establish a
united front in international negotiations.
Although the civil war and drug trafficking are not on the official agenda, the two presidents will discuss them.
Brazil has already offered to host a meeting between the government of Colombia and the guerrilla movement, Farc (Forças
Armadas Revolucionárias da Colômbia), under the auspices of the United Nations in a neutral country. A more active
presence of Brazil in the talks between the Colombian government and the guerrillas is seen as a way to further strengthen
At the moment, Colombia has very close ties with the United States because of Plan Colombia and its financial
contribution to the fight against the guerrillas and drugs. But Lula has said, most recently at a meeting of the Economic and
Social Development Council, that he wants to tell Uribe that he can also depend on Brazil.
Between September 22 and 25, Lula will be in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly session. On
the 23rd, he will speak to the meeting. Lula will be followed by the presidents of the United States (George W. Bush), Peru
(Alexandre Toledo), and France (Jacques Chirac), and then the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan. Lula will specifically address the
world's social problems with emphasis on the fight against hunger. He will also speak of the role of the UN in resolving
On September 25 and 26, Lula will be in Mexico for talks on economic integration. The final stop on the trip will be
on the 26th, in Cuba, where he will sign various cooperation agreements.
Boosting Arab Trade
With the inauguration of the new Brazil-Arab News Agency at the Brazil - Arab Chamber of Commerce today, trade
between Brazil and the Arab world will get a boost. The agency will report on business opportunities and the economic situation
in Brazil with the objective of increasing exports to the Arab world, as well as reporting on news in the 22 Arab countries
that are members of the chamber of commerce.
According to a spokesman for the chamber, trade with the Arabic world is a priority of the Luiz Inácio Lula da
Silva government and the President himself has scheduled a trip to the region at the end of the year. A study by the chamber
estimates that Brazil-Arab commerce, the region is Brazil's fourth biggest trade partner, currently worth US$ 2.6 billion, could
rise to US$ 7 billion by 2007.
September 16, 2003.
The material for this article was supplied by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian
government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com