Bush Agrees with Lula: Trade Agreement Must Favor Brazil and US

As two of the world’s largest and most diverse democracies, Brazil and the United States share an obligation to work together for peace and prosperity, President Bush says.

In a joint press availability in Brasí­lia with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, November 6, Bush thanked Lula for Brazil’s leadership in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, citing the presence of Brazilian peacekeepers in Haiti, as well as Brazil’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and to fight HIV/AIDS.

Bush also expressed admiration for Lula’s economic reforms to encourage growth, job creation and trade expansion.

Trade is vital for continued growth and jobs, and "good trade is trade where people benefit on both sides," he said.  "It must be equitable, it must be fair, and I’m convinced that’s the trade relationship we have on a bilateral basis."

Free Trade Area of the Americas

Bush reaffirmed U.S. support for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), but expressed understanding for Brazil’s view that the World Trade Organization’s ongoing talks, also known as the Doha Round, should proceed further before FTAA negotiations resume.

For trade agreements to succeed, Bush said, both Brazilian and U.S. citizens must be convinced that those pacts are in their mutual interest.

In a press briefing en route to Brasí­lia from Buenos Aires, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said that the Brazilian President’s comments at the Summit of the Americas "were very supportive of trade; he understands the contribution that good trade made."

However, a senior U.S. official on board the press plane noted that Venezuela and the countries of the Mercosur trading bloc – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay – did not agree with pressing forward right away on negotiations for establishing the FTAA.

In a roundtable discussion with young Brazilian leaders in Brasí­lia earlier in the day, Bush praised Brazilian President Lula as a leader with a good heart who has made tough decisions to ensure a strong Brazilian economy.

"I share the same concern he has," Bush said, "a concern of making sure that the least fortunate among us has a chance to survive and succeed."

Spread of Democracy

In response to a question, Bush denied that the United States has a "missionary zeal" to spread democracy.  He said, "I do have a deep desire to help others assume a democracy that conforms to their traditions and their customs.  And the reason why is because the world has seen that democracies do not fight each other."

Bush said that he would be going to Japan in two weeks and "sitting down with one of the best friends that I have in the international arena" – Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.  Japan has its own style of democracy, Bush added, not one modeled after the U.S. version.

"I am anxious to work with countries to help make sure that the institutions, universal institutions of democracy, become entrenched in society – freedom to worship, freedom of the press, rule of law," Bush said.

Bush expressed the belief that democracies are much better at dealing with social issues such as minority rights.

"I don’t think America, nor Brazil, should ever back down from believing in the universality of freedom and democracy," Bush said.

Diversity and Social Responsibilities

Democracy, diversity and social issues were also themes in Bush’s remarks at the Blue Tree Park Hotel in Brasí­lia later in the day.

"Each democracy has its own character and culture that reflect its unique traditions and history. Yet all free and successful countries share some common characteristics: freedom to worship, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, economic liberty, equal justice under the rule of law, equal citizenship for all – and the limitation of state power through checks and balances," he said.

Bush noted that in many parts of the Western Hemisphere "these institutions of a free society are still young, and they are fragile."

"[W]e must ensure that they are strong for the tasks ahead. To deliver justice, the people must have confidence in their institutions – and we must replace the rule of man with the rule of law," he said.

Free societies must also alleviate poverty, provide educational opportunities and security, and be accountable to their citizens, he said.

"In free societies, citizens will rightly insist that people should not go hungry, that every child deserves the opportunity for a decent education, and that hard work and initiative should be rewarded. And with each new generation that grows up in freedom and democracy, these expectations rise – and the demands for accountability grow.  Either democracies will meet these legitimate demands, or we will yield the future to the enemies of freedom," he said.

Howard Cincotta is a Special Correspondent for Washington File, a service of the US Department of State

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