Brazil Blames US for Doha Negotiations Stalling

Brazil's chief negotiator at the Doha Round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) accused the United States of moving "countercurrent" regarding the liberalization of global agricultural trade and expressed uncertainty that negotiations can conclude this year.

Roberto Azevedo in an interview with Folha de S. Paulo published Monday said "there is an unequivocal political will" by political leaders to conclude the Doha Round, but "rich countries are responsible for the current stalling".

"United States is walking a little bit countercurrent on trade liberalization, especially in agriculture, because US agricultural subsidies payments have actually been increasing, while everywhere else they are decreasing", pointed out Azevedo who is Deputy Secretary of State for economic and technological affairs at the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

"The world's largest economies should be leading the way", said Azevedo adding that "the July 2006 positions which led to the suspension of negotiations – because of domestic farm support and market access policies – continue to be the cornerstone of US, EU and G-20 positions"

Brazil is one of the leaders of the so-called G-20, a group of agricultural producers.

"The G-20 wants this round to live up to its name of "Development Round. It wants rich countries to stop distorting agricultural trade," said Azevedo. "It wants protectionism to stop building un-surmountable barriers to have access to markets; G-20 believes in fair and balanced trade."

"It is not fair that a farmer in a developing country must compete with the treasury of a rich country," highlighted Azevedo.

The Brazilian negotiator said Europeans conducted a farm reform previous to the Doha round, "but incomplete". "It was for domestic consumption, and they would like to see advances in other areas so these reforms can be passed."

However Azevedo disagreed with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who recently said he expected negotiations to be over by next April. "It's a negotiating scenario of an optimism I do not share".

But Azevedo did agree that negotiations will re-start as was promised by world leaders in the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. "There's no way the round won't materialize."

And if the round fails or does not achieve its goal, "the WTO will face new tests, will have to learn to blend more interests, but under no circumstances is the existence of WTO at risk."



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