Super Cautious, Brazil’s Chancellor Says Ball Is at EU’s Court

Progress in trade talks at the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization in Hong Kong, between December 11 and 16, will depend on whether or not the EU can present a better proposal for opening its markets, says Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim.

"We are at a delicate moment in this round of talks. The Hong Kong meeting will certainly be interesting, but I do not know if it will clear up any of our problems," said the Minister, adding that it could just be a big failure like Cancun in 2003.

"Everyone is aware of the need for successful multilateral trade negotiations. No one wants a failure. We seek the elimination of export subsidies and a substantial reduction in domestic price supports. We are also interested in market access.

"Market access is the pivotal question. Everything else depends on it," said Amorim, adding that although farm produce is the "engine" of the Doha Round, not much progress has been made in that area.

The reason Amorim is putting so much emphasis on the EU is that the United States has finally made a proposal to reduce its subsidies.

"We consider the [American] proposal relevant, although it remains insufficient. It is progress," he said.

More progress depends on market access, Amorim added. "The EU has not moved in the direction of opening its markets. Its proposal is very modest. It is fundamental to make progress on the question of market access. What the EU is offering is less than it offered way back during the Uruguay Round. What we need is to change gears so that this engine will run," Amorim concluded.



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