For Brazil, Failure Is Not Option in WTO Talks

Delegates from the 23 developing countries making up G-20 pledged unity and warned in Brazil that failure to advance global trade talks would weaken confidence in the World Trade Organization and open the path to unilateralism.

However Celso Amorim, Foreign Affairs minister of Brazil said that "failure is not a hypothesis", since it was "our unity that has brought us to where we stand now".

The WTO Doha Round launched five years ago in Qatar, have been stalled since last July and G-20 blames the wealthy countries lack of political willingness to open their agriculture markets.

Developed countries, mainly the United States, European Union, Japan are demanding reciprocity in manufactured goods and services plus protection of industrial property.

Following the first two days of deliberations in Rio do Janeiro G-20 under the leadership of Brazil and India issued Saturday a release underlining the decision to remain "united in defense of our widest interests" and to keep struggling for global "fair trade".

Chilean Foreign Secretary Alejandro Foxley said that failure to resume talks could impose "unilateralism of the most powerful" and Amorim added that not only trade agreements are at stake but the international economic order if no advance is reached.

Amorim admitted some differences inside G-20 but "our coincidences are far greater, and what is new is that developing countries are at the vanguard" of world trade talks.

India’s Industry and Commerce minister Kamal Nath said that G.20 credibility is based on the fact that "it’s made up of countries with many different interests" underlining that the suspension of the Doha Round talks have "left a feeling of frustration".

Jorge Taiana from Argentina pointed out that the release shows "where we stand, which our differences are and where we have to head to make progress", but the only acceptable outcome must be in line "with the initial Doha Round commitments". Delegates from G-20 met late Saturday with WTO chief Pascal Lamy and are scheduled to hold interviews Sunday with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

In the Saturday statement G-20 claims developed countries have "special responsibility" in the resumption of the World Trade Organization’s Doha round talks, and calls on them to enact measures that "eliminate trade distortions and promote significant opening of their markets."

Current positions of the wealthy nations do not provide an "adequate basis for the successful conclusion of the negotiations", and significant improvements of proposals are essential, particularly in the two main areas of domestic farm subsidies and market access for agricultural products.

Further talks are due to talk place in Cairns, Australia, on September 20 among agricultural exporting countries.

All sides are aware that if no agreement is reached the whole negotiating process could be delayed until after US presidential elections in 2008, since President George W. Bush’s fast-track authority, special powers to negotiate trade agreements, expires in mid 2007. Congressional approval of such special powers for an outgoing president is not common.

Members of the G-20 are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Mercopress

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