Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made an appeal this Friday, May 12, to the leaders attending the 4th Latin American-Caribbean-European Union Summit Meeting, in Vienna, Austria, to speed up the completion of the current round of negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
According to Lula, this would be the best way for the rich countries to contribute to the war on poverty.
"The WTO Round is the best opportunity we have to reduce or eliminate subsidies, open markets, increase wealth, and generate employment," Lula said, when he addressed a closed meeting of the more than 50 heads of State and government present at the summit.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty) distributed copies of the president’s speech to the press.
"Only when trade is truly rid of barriers and subsidies will we be able to integrate millions of human beings into the world economy," he affirmed.
"For this to occur, we should correct the profound imbalances that currently dominate commercial exchanges, to the detriment of the poorest countries."
Lula pointed out that the negotiations must consider the countries’ level of development. "The final agreement we desire for the Doha Round should incorporate a context in which concessions are directly proportional to the degree of wealth," he said.
"The rich countries should be the most magnanimous. The developing countries will make significant strides, according to their possibilities. And the poorest among the poor countries will not have to make any sacrifice. Quite the opposite, they will receive concrete benefits inversely proportional to their degree of wealth."
The Brazilian president declared that Brazil is willing to make concessions. "We are willing to alter our stand on questions related to industry and services, so long as there are really significant advances in the liberalization of agricultural trade," he stated.
The chief item on which the rich countries must soften their position, according to Lula, is in their agricultural subsidies. "The rich countries’ agricultural protectionism is one of the most unjust forms of lowering living standards in the developing world."
The president recalled that he has been repeating this appeal since February, when he participated in an international meeting in South Africa, and will make it again in July, in Russia, at the meeting of the G-8 (the group formed by the world’s richest countries).
"If we are incapable of making international trade freer and fairer, how will we be able, collectively and effectively, to solve more complex issues such as the war on terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the arms race?," Lula queried at the end of his address.
According to the minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, the call to conclude the WTO negotiations as quickly as possible was also the main point of the parallel, bilateral meetings in which Lula participated during the morning.
The president had breakfast with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and then met with the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Afterwards he met with the Portuguese prime minister, José Sócrates.
During the afternoon Lula was scheduled to meet with the Spanish president, José Luiz Zapatero, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet.