World’s Need for Brazil’s Ethanol May Unblock WTO Trade Barrier Talks

The World Economic Forum, which started yesterday, January 24, in Davos, Switzerland, will include a parallel agenda to discuss World Trade Organization (WTO) topics.

According to the Swiss ambassador to Brazil, Rudolf Baerfuss, there will be an informal ministerial meting to try to unbar WTO negotiations.

"This informal ministerial meeting is an attempt at speeding up foreign trade negotiations, the Doha Rounds. This meeting will be headed by the Swiss minister of economy and will bring together around 30 ministers responsible for foreign trade, among them Celso Amorim (the Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations)."

The Doha Rounds are negotiations between countries within the WTO to reduce trade barriers. The Rounds began in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, and included other ministerial meetings in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003, and Hong Kong, China, in 2005. The negotiations have been jammed since July 2006, due to lack of consensus, mainly in the agricultural area.

Professor Mário Ferreira Presser, coordinator of the Economic Diplomacy course at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) believes that negotiations may progress due to the ethanol needs of developed countries. The barriers to the trade of the only fuel believed, in the short run, to be a solution to reduce climate change – ethanol -, connect Davos to Doha.

"The development of the Doha Rounds may be associated to the question of liberalization of sugar and alcohol, two items that may come together in the first half of this year. If developed countries make important concessions in sugar and alcohol, signaling to various developing countries that there will be guaranteed demand, this will certainly elevate the enthusiasm of developing countries with regard to the Doha Rounds," he evaluates.

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