Brazil, India, United States and European Union are scheduled to meet in London and Geneva this weekend. Their top trade negotiators will be trying to restart stalled World Trade Organization efforts to liberalize global commerce. The information comes from Brazilian officials.
"It will be just bilateral talks," said Clodoaldo Hugueney, Brazilian ambassador to the WTO.
The meetings are expected to include the U.S. trade representative, Susan Schwab; the EU trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson; India's trade minister, Kamal Nath and Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim.
European and U.S. officials confirmed the bilateral meetings but said no sessions were being planned that would bring together all four ministers, who represent the countries largely seen as the main power brokers within the WTO.
The failure of the United States, the EU, Brazil and India to reach an agreement during negotiations in July led to the suspension of the Doha round talks. Officials have since sought to avoid more high-profile WTO failures and have played down their meetings.
Brazil and India say the round should focus on agriculture although they are also insisting on safeguards for developing countries manufacturers.
The United States is pushing Europe to ease access for American beef, poultry and other farm exports, while Brussels says Washington must first promise deeper cuts in agricultural subsidies. United States and the EU are demanding that emerging economic powers open up their industrial markets.
"We are now on a path that can lead us to a successful result," anticipated U.S. deputy trade representative, John Veroneau.
WTO negotiators are attempting to reach some form of agreement on a new global trade accord before July, when President George W. Bush's authority to make trade deals that can be sent to Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote expires.
Bush is seeking the renewal of the so- called fast track power, but faces an uphill battle in Congress. Without the authority, it would difficult for any treaty to gain congressional approval in the United States.