By December the new proposals by the group of 20 developing countries (G-20) for the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be ready.
The date will be the final limit for the 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting, to take place in Hong Kong, the former British colony that became a Chinese administrative area in 1997.
On returning to Brazil, after visiting Angola, the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, spoke about the proposal that the G-20 has been defending.
According to Amorim, the proposal was close to a consensus at the last WTO meeting, the Mini-Ministerial Conference, in Dalian, a city in the northeast of China, close to the frontier with North Korea.
The G-20 made a proposal with the objective of reaching a balance in agricultural negotiations on three pillars. The first is for domestic support and forecasts the definition of a level for the reduction of the tariffs that generate distortions in foreign trade.
The second pillar is the freezing of all export subsidies. It also states that all forms of subsidies should be eliminated in a period no greater than five years.
In the third pillar, which refers to market access, the members of the G-20 considered that a formula for linear tariff reductions within bands is the best alternative to advance in the negotiations.
The minister stated that there will always be “more backward” sectors, but he showed greater optimism with regard to the proposal that, according to him, was well received by the United States and the European Union.
“I am convinced that we are going to advance,” he said. Below, the main stretches of the interview:
How was the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in China this month?
Celso Amorim – It was very positive because the G-20 brings together many developing countries of various kinds, from Brazil and Argentina, for example, who are very competitive in the agricultural area to countries that are less developed, like Tanzania.
And also large countries that have family farming, as is the case with India and Egypt. The proposal was well received both by the United States and by the European Union as a possible base for negotiations. This was a very important step.
What is the proposal based on? Does it seek guarantees for more loyal competition?
It is based on the Doha mandate itself and on the framework agreement that was signed in June last year in Geneva. Both point in the direction of elimination of export subsidies.
The president of the United States himself, George Bush, addressed the elimination of internal subsidies for the expansion of conditions for market access. This way you favor those who are more competitive, something very important for developing countries.
May the proposal face resistance?
There will always be more backward sectors that benefit from public funds. In reality, when you buy a kilogram of beef, lets say in Europe, if the meat is European, half of what you are buying is a subsidy.
This is the kind of not loyal competition that we want to eliminate or, at least, if it is not possible to eliminate it completely, to substantially reduce.
We have been working on that, even in the contentious cases, as is the case of cotton, sugar, which, in fact, are serving as impulses for some reforms. This has certainly taken place in the case of the European policy with regard to sugar, not enough, but there has been a reform, it is taking place.