Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva appealed to other Mercosur leaders to press the rich nations to end their agricultural subsidies, financial or indirect assistance given to farmers.
According to Lula, this agricultural assistance from the rich countries harm the poorer countries, because they artificially enable European, US, and Japanese agricultural goods to compete with what is produced in developing countries.
"I think that each of the Mercosur presidents could grab the phone and call one of his counterparts in Europe and the United States, for us to begin to apply pressure, because, otherwise, all of us will spend 20 more years watching the poor get poorer and the rich get richer," he said, during his participation at the 29th Mercosur Summit meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Friday, December 9.
The end of agricultural subsidies will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), scheduled for December 13-18, in Hong Kong.
Last week, in telephone conversations with US president George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair, the Brazilian president suggested a meeting among heads of State of rich and poor countries to find a way out of the negotiating impasse on this matter in the WTO.
In Lula’s opinion, the question should be discussed by the presidents of the countries, not their advisors. "This decision is so important that it shouldn’t be just another decision for our technical staffers or ministers to make. It should be handled by the presidents."
He went on to say: "It is not possible that in a decision of this magnitude, affecting the fates of millions and millions of human beings, many of them without any power to take part in multilateral organizations, most of all the WTO, they will not be dealt with through a humanitarian, solidary trade policy on the part of the rich countries vis-à-vis the emerging countries."
President Lula’s original idea was for the meeting to take place before the WTO ministerial meeting. Now the plan is for the heads of State to get together in January. The President said he intends to speak to the governments of Germany and France about the proposal too.