Brazil Accuses EU of Moving Backwards on WTO Agreement

In a press conference Tuesday, January 24, Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, stated that he does not expect much progress at the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting begins today and ends on Sunday, January 29.

"Significant progress is not likely. The negotiations in Hong Kong reached the limit of what was possible at that moment. There must be a pause before discussions involving more substantial matters are resumed. I am going there to observe the ritual as well as to establish procedures for the future," the Minister commented.

Amorim noted that the European Union has been emitting negative signals with respect to the issues discussed at the Hong Kong meeting, which took place in December, 2005.

"I thought it was still too soon to expect a robust offer of new markets. And on the basis of what was said and placed on the table by the negotiators at Geneva, we are sensing a movement in two directions on the part of the European Union.

"When it comes to agriculture, there is a tendency to claim that we have already done all we could. In other words, that the offer is final," he explained.

Another item mentioned by the Minister was the question of market access. According to Amorim, the European Union wants to deal with this question in terms of quantities of products.

In his view, this is not a positive solution, since it will stimulate divisions among the developing countries, which united to negotiate at the Hong Kong meeting.

"Even if this approach could satisfy the interests of some countries, it would be inadequate to produce the kind of tariff reductions that might lead the United States, another major subsidizer, to lower its domestic subsidies the way it should, the way we want," he said.

According to the Minister, the impression conveyed by the developed countries is that the agreements discussed in Hong Kong will never be implemented.

"What is on the table is a veiled attempt to move backwards. One gets the impression that defensive instruments are beginning to take shape so that the commitment that was assumed in Doha, in Agreement 4 of 2004, and now in Hong Kong will never be fulfilled," he said.

Following the WTO meeting, the Minister will participate in a conference on Afghanistan, at the invitation of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.

Brazil was the only Latin American country invited to the conference, which will discuss the participation of the international community in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Agência Brasil

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