Brazil Blames High Import Duties on Its Own Incompetence

Brazil’s Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, said that the proposal Brazil plans to present at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to reduce duties on non-agricultural imports, is predicated on the elimination of adverse factors affecting domestic production. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in December.

In an interview with Radiobrás, Furlan admitted that the government has not yet succeeded in implementing policies that bring about a greater liberalization of the domestic market, contrary to what has been happening in other developing countries.

“Our proposal is based upon a principle called competitive isonomy [equal rights]. We can have a greater degree of liberalization, if the idiosyncratic cost of doing business in Brazil is eliminated. The day we possess an infrastructure that works and interest rates equivalent to those in China, India, Argentina, Russia, and Mexico, we will be able to adopt import duties similar to theirs,” he affirmed.

“As long as domestic production continues to be systematically burdened by the incompetencies which we have and are trying to correct, import duties end up representing a compensation for our additional cost,” Furlan said.

The minister defended the uninterrupted liberalization of the Brazilian market, “because it favors the competitiveness of companies, attracts investments, and, most of all, benefits the Brazilian consumer through the higher quality of the merchandise offered and price stability.”

He emphasized, however, that the country will not carry out liberalization unilaterally, without counterpart measures favoring products of interest to Brazil.

As of Wednesday, September 21, Brazilian negotiators in Geneva have been participating in preparatory discussions for the Hong Kong meeting, the theme of which is the opening of markets to non-agricultural goods (referred to as NAMA, which stands for Non-Agricultural Market Access), in the context of the WTO’s Doha Round.

In 2001, negotiators meeting in Doha placed priority on the liberalization of markets for agricultural goods, especially in the industrial countries, through the elimination of barriers to agricultural imports from developing countries. In return, the developing countries should reduce their barriers to the entry of industrial goods and services.

Agência Brasil


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