Brazil Calls Protectionism Poison and Not a Cure

Presidents Kirchner and Lula The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, admitted this week that trade with Argentina is "facing problems," but discarded specific measures against Argentine exports adding that any differences between the two countries "will be solved in Mercosur deliberations."

"If there's a problem with Argentina? There is. But we are going to sit around a Mercosur negotiation table to solve it, because that is the legitimate forum to discuss trade issues between both countries," said Lula talking to reporters in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia.

But "it's a mistake to believe that trade protectionist measures can help solve problems. We don't believe in protectionism, we're going to campaign against protectionism and we will reach all those agreements possible," emphasized the Brazilian president.

Earlier in the day Development, Industry and Foreign Trade minister Miguel Jorge also brushed aside the possibility of Brazilian restrictive measures on Argentine imports, "how can we think of imposing trade reprisals on one of our main associates? That's not going to happen."

On Tuesday the president of the powerful Sao Paulo Federation of Industries, FIESP, Paulo Skaf openly called for the Brazilian government to adopt similar restrictive measures to those imposed by Argentina against Brazilian exports.

In late January, Brazil tried to adopt a licensing system for imports before they are authorized and dispatched, which generated strong reactions from most Brazilian trade partners and was rapidly eliminated.

Next week, Foreign Affairs, Economy and Foreign Trade ministers from Argentina and Brazil are scheduled to meet in Brasí­lia, and in March Argentine president will be participating in a business seminar organized by FIESP in Sao Paulo. This will be one of the highlights of her coming official visit to Brazil.

On Wednesday Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim described protectionism "as a venom and not a cure" for the current global financial crisis and warned that Brazil would appeal to the World Trade Organization every time it is needed "to prevent protectionism" from spreading.

Amorim said he understands governments have a duty to look after their people and jobs, but it is also "equally important that in the search of solutions to current problems, those leaders don't end creating greater problems to others which will ultimately backfire against them."

"For example it's useless for the US to insist with "Buy American," if other countries abstain from that approach," he added.

Amorim made the comments after holding a meeting with the Senate president Jose Sarney to review the main foreign policy issues for this year.


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