In a declaration issued today in Hong Kong (China), the 21 countries that form the G20 (the group of developing countries led by Brazil and China) once again affirmed that eliminating distortions in the rules of international agricultural trade is essential.
To them that’s the only way to ensure that the current round of negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) really constitutes the "development round," as was proposed when it was launched three years ago in Doha, Qatar.
"The greatest structural distortion in international trade is in agriculture, through the combination of high tariffs, domestic supports, and export subsidies, which protect inefficient producers in the developed countries," says the document, which was drafted at the G20’s first formal meeting during the 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting, which got underway today.
When the meeting ended, the Indian minister of Trade and Industry, Kamal Nath, declared that "it is necessary to leave Hong Kong having advanced a step in the direction of ending the inequities and distortions in international trade."
Despite the widespread belief that it will be a tepid encounter, the Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, is hopeful about the prospects for progress in Hong Kong.
"They still won’t be the advances we desire, but I believe that there will be progress permitting us to make more definitive advances at the beginning of the year," he remarked.
As an example of the type of step that could help get negotiations back on track, Amorim mentioned the possibility of defining a date for the end of export subsidies.
"This does not resolve other important problems, but it would represent a demonstration of seriousness on the part of the major subsidy-givers, especially the United States and the European Union," the minister judged, repeating comments he had made the previous night after a meeting among Brazil, Japan, the United States, the European Union, Australia, and India.