One of the topics on the agenda of the 6th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the preparation of a development package for the poorest nations (the so-called least among less developed countries or LLDCs).
The topic was discussed at a meeting last night, December 12, between Brazil, Japan, the United States, the European Union, Australia, and India, with the participation of the president of the WTO, Pascal Lamy.
Brazil was represented at the meeting by the ministers of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, and Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan.
According to Amorim, the common platform that is being negotiated involves market access for products from the LLDCs, exempt from quotas and tariffs, throughout the rest of the world.
"We shall try to accomplish as much as possible along these lines, with a strong multilateral commitment but with some flexibility," he remarked, emphasizing that the developing countries cannot offer the same thing as the European Union, the United States, and Japan.
In the chancellor’s assessment, however, Brazil and the Mercosur are prepared to open their markets, free of quotas and tariffs, to the poorest nations.
"Being careful, at the same time, not to harm the interests of Paraguay, which is one of the poorest countries in our region," the Minister observed.
In Amorim’s view, beyond opening markets, it is necessary to help the least developed countries diversify and add value to what they produce. "It is useless to be free of tariffs and quotas if the countries have nothing to export."
At the end of the meeting, Amorim recalled that it was the polemic surrounding this matter that led to the "collapse" of the last Ministerial Conference, in Cancun, in 2003.
"The development package is intrinsically important, because a great percentage of humanity depends on it. It is also important, since, if it is neglected, we run the risk of reaching the final stage and having the negotiations collapse over an issue that was not resolved," he said.
Amorim also underscored the importance of the united front within the G6 (United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy).
"It think it very significant that these G6 countries are striving to define a common platform vis-à-vis the least developed countries, instead of using this to create discord among the developing countries," Amorim said, referring to an eventual alliance between the least developed countries and the European Union in opposition to the interests of the G20, in order to preserve preferences the LLDCs already enjoy on the European market.
The G20 is formed by developing countries that represent 60% of the world’s rural population, 21% of its agricultural production, 26% of its exports, and 18% of its imports.