Doha Trade Negotiations Collapse. Brazil and US Blame Each Other

Celso Amorim with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Disappointed with the World Trade Organization talks collapse over farm subsidies by the US and Europe, American President George W. Bush blamed Brazil and India for the failure. Brazil and India decided to withdraw from the negotiations taking place in Postdam, Germany. arguing that it was useless to keep on talking when there was no end in sight for the impasse.

According to Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, the head of the Brazilian delegation, once again the matter of agricultural subsidies locked the negotiations: "Potsdam wasn't a success," he told reporters commenting on the meeting that should have finished on Saturday but ended up being suddenly interrupted this Thursday, June 21.

í„t the end of March, during a visit to the US, Amorim had stated that the world would become a worse place if the Doha round failed. "Brazil will survive," he said at the time, "we all will survive. But in a worse level of well-being, with impact on poverty, immigration and criminality. It's not a question of saving the world but improving it." There was still some optimism then.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said that president Bush was disappointed to see some countries blocking an opportunity to expand trade. "Large economies like Brazil and India should not stand in the way of progress for smaller, poor developing nations, but that appears to be what happened in Germany this week," Fratto said..

The United States offers annually US$ 20 billion in subsidies to its farmers and the Bush administration says that it will reduce subsidies only when countries like Brazil and India open their markets to services and industrialized products of American companies.

For Renato Bauman, a professor of economics at the University of Brasí­lia, the decision by Brazil and India of abandoning the negotiations reflects the dissatisfaction of all other poorer nations with the US and Europe.

Bauman believes that other people like Bush will be condemning Brazil and India in the coming days: "There are going to be charges that the negotiations went into a dead-end and that Brazil and India should be blamed for that. The truth is that there is a huge distortion in this kind of analysis.

"The Doha round started with the goal of being the development round. Its agenda started shrinking, shrinking and now has been locked by agricultural matters. You can see that the development focus was already put under the carpet."

The WTO's Doha round started in 2001 and had the goal of liberalizing world trade in several sectors, among them agriculture, industry and services. By 2003, however, an impasse between developed and developing countries started to develop.

In 2003, in Cancún, Mexico, Brazil became the spokesperson and the leader of the developing nations for trade matters. Together with other countries in development Brazil created the G20.

The Doha round was supposed to have concluded by the end of 2004, but no agreement was reached at that time. Two years later, in July of 2006, the negotiations were abandoned.

A new effort was put forward in the last few months. But as the recent facts revealed the chasm betwen the two sides is still too wide.

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