The United States and Brazil are committed to securing an agreement on the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha Development Agenda that is ambitious and balanced, encourages greater market access and trade, and reduces poverty, the leaders of both countries say.
The WTO talks on free trade between countries of varying prosperity, also known as the Doha round, were launched in Qatar's capital of Doha in 2001. Contention among WTO countries on opening markets and cutting agricultural subsidies has hindered progress on the talks.
"It is in our interest to work together to make sure that we have a deal that treats Brazil fairly, the United States fairly, as well as other nations fairly," Bush said after meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva March 31.
The United States is "willing to reduce our agricultural subsidies in a substantial way," but "we expect our goods and services – whether they be agricultural goods or manufactured goods … to be given access to markets," he continued.
Bush stressed the importance of achieving a global trade agreement. "I strongly believe that the best way to help alleviate world poverty is through trade," he said. "It's not the only way, but it is the best start … coupled with health initiatives that we're working on, [and] food initiatives."
During their meeting, Bush and Lula also focused on bilateral trade issues, announcing the creation of a U.S.-Brazil CEO forum and applauding plans by the United States Council on Competitiveness and Brazilian Competitiveness Movement to stage an "Innovation Summit" in Brasília, Brazil, in July 2007.
The presidents also discussed efforts to advance research on and use of alternative fuels such as ethanol. According to a joint statement issued after the leaders' meeting, senior officials of the U.S. Departments of Energy, State and Agriculture will visit Brazil in spring 2007, and the governments intend to arrange for Brazilian researchers and scientists to visit biofuel research laboratories in the United States.
Brazil and the United States also work with Haiti, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, and El Salvador on biofuel projects, and will continue to consult with other countries.
The biofuels initiative is an important effort to reduce global warming, Bush said.
"One reason you promote alternative fuel is to be better stewards of the environment. Many of the greenhouse gases come from tailpipes of automobiles. And therefore, when you get away from gasoline and start using ethanol or biofuels, you make a significant step toward improving the environment," he told reporters.
Bush also expressed appreciation for Brazil's leadership of the United Nations Stabilization Force in Haiti. He said that the United States wants to work with Brazil to help the force to "be a part of a constructive future" for Haiti.
The presidents said in their joint statement that international action will have to incorporate efforts at political reconciliation and socioeconomic development, in addition to security, to succeed in Haiti.
Bush praised Brazil's "strong commitment to help nations, particularly on the continent of Africa," and said the United States will partner with Brazil to work toward eradicating malaria in São Tomé and Príncipe.
Bush and Lula also agreed to work together to find ways to combat malaria, tuberculosis, avian flu and other diseases, concentrating their efforts in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Angola and Mozambique. The United States and Brazil already have partnered on HIV/AIDS assistance in those countries.
When asked about Brazil's decision to maintain trade relations with Iran, Bush said Brazil "is a sovereign nation" that can make decisions in its best interest. However, he said, the United States "would hope that nations would be very careful in dealing with Iran, particularly since Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon."
Bush added that the United States "highly respects the people of Iran," their history and "rich traditions." He noted that the United States recently sent a wrestling team to Iran and is working to increase "people-to-people exchanges" with Iranians.
Bush also said the United States is "deeply concerned about an Iranian government that is in violation of international accords" and said he hopes the people of Iran will grow "tired of the isolation" that has resulted.
Bush also expressed support for British Prime Minister Tony Blair's effort to free the 15 British soldiers captured by Iranian forces March 23.
"The British hostages issue is a serious issue because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi water. And it's inexcusable behavior," he said.
Carrie Loewenthal is a USINFO Special Correspondent