US-Style FTAA Would Have Been Wrong Medicine, Says Brazilian Minister

The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, admitted that some sectors in Brazil might have lost out by the halt in negotiations over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

But, in his view, the country would suffer even greater losses, if the agreement were accepted.

"We might perhaps reap gains in the textile sector, but we couldn’t have made concessions in the area of intellectual property," he declared during a meeting of the Economic and Social Development Council, which had Brazilian foreign policy as its central theme.

"The agreement was unbalanced," he summarized. Amorim believes that the advantages that could have been obtained through the adoption of the FTAA were fewer than the concessions that would have had to be made.

"We couldn’t accept restrictions on our government’s purchasing capacity, restrictions even on our policy in the service sector," he argued.

According to the Minister, Brazil’s prime goal at this moment is to advance in multilateral negotiations, such as the one in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Amorim thinks that there is no room to discuss normative issues and agricultural subsidies on a regional basis.

"There are advantages in regional agreements, to be sure, but not in these fundamental aspects," he emphasized.

When asked by entrepreneurs on the Council whether Brazil isn’t losing markets as a result of bilateral or regional agreements among other countries, the chancellor responded that the Central American countries compete "relatively little" with Brazil.

Brazil, according to Amorim, is interested in a bilateral agreement with the United States, but in the format known as "four plus one": the United States, on the one hand, and, on the other, the Mercosur (made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay).

This agreement would be centered on market access. "It could even cover services and investments," the Minister added. "These mechanisms are complex, including from a legal standpoint in the eyes of the WTO, but I am prepared to continue to examine and work in this direction," he assured.

Agência Brasil

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