The Brazilian Ambassador to the United States, Roberto Abdenur, recognized that there are resistances and “disinclinations” on the part of the White House when it comes to accepting negotiations over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in the “4+1” format, in which the four Mercosur countries negotiate as a bloc with the United States.
Nevertheless, he expressed confidence in a solution congruous with the Brazilian position. “This is one more reason for us to insist. Sometimes these things work themselves out in the course of time.
“I believe that, to some extent, the political situation at present is more favorable to a decision by the American government along these lines,” he explained.
For the ambassador, the US government has shown its willingness to negotiate, and, even though its margin of victory was narrow (217 votes against 215), it was able to win House approval of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, the Dominican Republic, and the Central American countries (Cafta).
Moreover, it is negotiating Free Trade Agreements with Panama and with the Andean countries: Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.
“It makes no sense for the United States to omit what is by far the largest market in the region, that is, the market formed by Brazil and its Mercosur neighbors. We are ready to begin market access negotiations with the United States in the Mercosur/United States (4+1) format, whenever possible,” he said.
Abdenur judged that would not have been good for Brazil if the Cafta had been rejected, “inasmuch as the United States would lose credibility and bargaining power in the Doha round, which is of great importance and a priority for Brazil.
“Approval of the Cafta was a good sign that the United States has the capacity and political desire to move ahead in free trade negotiations on the multilateral plane, which is important for Brazil,” he explained.
The ambassador said that the Brazil-United States Growth Group work luncheon in Rio de Janeiro, attended by the Brazilian Minister of Finance, Antônio Palocci, and the United States Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, was not a negotiating meeting intended to produce immediate results.
According to Abdenur, decisions like that are not made on the spot at meetings of this type, but he added that the purpose of the encounter was to touch on various aspects of economic policy that are relevant to the growth of the two countries.
The Growth Group was launched by Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and George Bush during Lula’s visit to Washington, in the United States, in June, 2003.
The ambassador said that the idea is to encourage a bilateral dialogue in search of different ways to stimulate the economies of both countries.