Despite the absence of favorable prospects for the upcoming Doha Round negotiations, the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, reiterated that multilateral agreements in the setting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remain a priority of the Brazilian government.
Not only in consequence of the diversity of Brazil’s trade partners, but, principally, in view of the impracticality of pitting forces against the developed countries in bilateral or regional negotiations, he added.
"The major distortion that exists at present is in agricultural trade. Within this distortion, the chief factor is the existence of lavish agricultural subsidies, perpetuating feudal vestiges that produce unemployment, hunger, and poverty in the developing countries," he affirmed.
"There is no way to deal with this issue in a regional framework, in an eventual FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), nor in the context of the European Union. Only in the WTO," Amorim opined, after a public hearing in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Minister said he believes that in a bilateral "arm wrestling match" Brazil would never have won the victories it achieved against US cotton subsidies and European sugar subsidies.
"It would be impossible to imagine, because there would have been neither a dispute settlement system nor rules allowing the objections we raised," he judged.
"A negotiation on the regional level, if not previously offset by good multilateral rules, would probably do harm to various sectors in Brazil," he concluded.
Inaugurated in 2001 at the 4th WTO Ministerial Meeting, in Doha, capital of Qatar, for the purpose of establishing fairer trade rules, the new round of negotiations – referred to as a development round – did not make headway in 2003 at the 5th Ministerial Meeting, in Cancun, Mexico, and was given an extension through 2007.
The Hong Kong Summit, set for December, is already being regarded as a vital moment for the Doha Round.