The three-day meeting between representatives of the Mercosur and the European
Union (EU) to discuss the creation of a free trade area ended without an agreement.
The EU does not accept
the comprehensive negotiation, covering various sectors and points, desired
by the Southern Cone countries. The EU insists upon discussing each item,
step by step.
Moreover, the Europeans
refuse to make a new offer until the Mercosur first puts its offer on the
table. Despite these differences, both sides are unanimous in affirming that
the October deadline for signing a free trade agreement can still be met.
For the EU's Director
of International Agricultural Affairs, João Pacheco, pessimism is not
called for. "We shall converse with our Ministers and see what they decide,"
Pacheco said that he is
returning home somewhat disappointed, but believes that the negotiations have
not been suspended. "We're just taking three weeks off for vacation,
after which the talks will be resumed."
A feeling of frustration
also exists on the Mercosur side. The expectation of a week of intense debate
ended up not coming true. The meeting terminated ahead of schedule, halfway
through the third day.
The Mercosur negotiators
will now concentrate their efforts on more direct contacts with the European
Ministers. The next meetings are set to take place September 13-20.
For Ambassador Régis
Arslanian, coordinator of negotiations for the Mercosur, the objective is
for both sides to present their offers simultaneously. In his evaluation,
the Europeans are obtaining more advantages, for the time being. "The
negotiations are unbalanced and need to be corrected," Arslanian stated.
On August 13, in Assunción,
Paraguay, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva participated in a ceremony
to inaugurate the headquarters of the Permanent Appeals Court of the Mercosur.
The court will be a venue
of last resort to judge trade disputes between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay,
and Uruguay, members of the trade bloc. All the decisions will have the force
"The G-20 played
a fundamental role in reaching the agreement. And that was a revolution at
the World Trade Organization. We have introduced a certain degree of multi-polarity
there, with Brazil playing a key role," said the minister.
Amorim added that Brazil
will continue to fight for its legitimate rights and real interests. "We
are not involved in international negotiations for crumbs," he said.
"And that holds for FTAA, the WTO and the European Union."
Amorim said that the Geneva
meeting had made the G-20 a legitimate negotiating force and created a new
"Now we have a triangle:
the United States, the European Union and the G-20," he declared.
And we have recently been
able to win a few victories, said the minister, pointing to the ruling on
developed nation farm subsidies, which Amorim called a great victory for developing
"That ruling means
the elimination of some US$ 10 billion in subsidies and export credits,"
said he Minister.
With regard to market
access, Amorim admitted that not much progress had been made. But he insisted
that the situation today is better than it was in the past.
He cited the use of the
so-called principle of progressivity, which divided tariffs into bands and
then made bigger reductions of higher tariffs.
"The decision to
use the progressivity principle has been an obvious improvement over the Cancun
and Uruguay rounds," he declared.
In closing, Amorim said
that there was no deadline for the complete elimination of subsidies and export
Betting on Russia
Brazil expects to triple
its modest share of the Russian market within three to four years. At the
moment, 2 percent of Russian imports come from Brazil.
The first step to reach
that goal is a trade show that will take place in Moscow between September
24 and 28, featuring Brazilian footwear, clothing, perfumes and jewelry, besides
cachaça, coffee and fruit juices.
will also perform at the event. As part of the exhibition, the organizers
are offering to bring Russian journalists to Brazil to see the country and
In the first half of this
year, Brazilian exports to Russia rose 3 percent to US$ 690.2 million. The
number of Brazilian firms exporting to Russia rose by 25 percent during that
Brazilian products with
a good chance of acceptance in Russia, besides those mentioned above, are:
beef, pork and poultry, cheeses, bananas and oranges, soybean oil, cocoa and
chocolate, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, tires, sanitary napkins, textiles, washing
machines, telephone and telegraph equipment, and automobiles.
The Russian economy has
been expanding strongly. It was up 7.3 percent in 2003, and estimates are
that it will grow 6 percent this year. With a population of 144 million and
a GDP of US$ 434.2 billion, the Russians imported US$ 74.5 billion worth of
goods in 2003 (exporting US$ 135.2 billion).
Russia is Brazil's 14th
biggest trade partner.
Ana Paula Ferrari works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.