Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, announced this Monday, March 26, in Brazil, that he will ask American President George W. Bush to help advance global trade talks when he visits Washington this coming Saturday, March 31. Lula is scheduled to meet Bush at Camp David in Maryland.
"I will discuss the World Trade Organization with Bush because the WTO's success depends heavily on the United States," Lula said on Rádio Nacional, a government-owned radio network.
The latest round of WTO-linked global trade talks stalled last year after developing countries led by Brazil and India insisted the United States and other industrial nations lower subsidies for farmers and tariffs on agricultural imports.
Talks have since resumed and trade officials are now trying desperately to conclude the round before June, when a key agreement or "fast track" between the U.S. president and Congress expires. Unless the agreement is renewed, legislators can revise trade deals negotiated by the president, making deals much harder to reach.
Meantime, in Quito, Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization, said that the Doha round objective has not been the "complete liberalization of all economies" but rather an end to rich countries farm export subsidies.
"The purpose of this round was never total liberalization of all economies. Rather cut trade barriers, correct misbalances in current trade rules, which hinder poor countries, stimulate growth and reduce poverty," said Lamy adding that his efforts are concentrated in reaching an "agreement to advance in the elimination of subsidies" and thus helping the US to adjust to that objective.
Lamy revealed that US negotiators consider that if advances are reached "it can help renew the special Congress authority" (for the White House to subscribe trade agreements) and thus conclude the Doha Round.
Brazilian President Lula said he will ask Bush to help African countries and Haiti develop their economies, possibly by producing alternative fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel, areas in which Brazil leads the world.
Brazil wants to export more ethanol, a gasoline alternative that it makes cheaply and efficiently from sugar cane, but buyers are reluctant to rely on a fuel only Brazil can export.
During the recent visit of US President Bush to Latinamerica a strategic bio-fuels promotion agreement was signed with Brazil. The United States is the world's largest ethanol producer and consumer, but it makes ethanol from corn, which costs more and is less energy efficient.