According to U.S. Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, a general agreement on global trade liberalization in the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha round of talks is "closer than most people think."
Speaking to Brazilian business leaders in São Paulo, in Brazil's Southeast, Gutierrez urged Brazil's government to lobby other developing countries to find solutions to the issues stalling the talks, which began in 2001.
"If Brazil uses its influence, then a Doha agreement would be that much closer … Developing countries look up to Brazil. Brazil is a leader," said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez said the future Doha round trade talks should focus on existing texts that have been developed by negotiators in Geneva.
"What I would like to see is an agreement based on these texts … I am hopeful," he said.
He said the texts deal with agriculture, services and trade in manufacturing goods.
Gutierrez guaranteed the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is "strongly committed" to successful conclusion of the Doha Round. "These negotiations are at a critical juncture," he said. "Doha is the biggest opportunity we have right now in the world. It could take 500 million people out of poverty."
He said the Bush administration is convinced the U.S. Congress would view a Doha agreement favorably and pass the legislation necessary to implement it.
"We believe that because of the potential benefits of it, it would be difficult to walk away from a Doha agreement."
Gutierrez is supposed to meet with Brazilian officials, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in Brazilian capital Brasília.
This Thursday, October 11, he will inaugurate a committee of top business executives from both Brazil and the U.S. The executives will develop an agenda of recommendations for the governments of Brazil and the U.S. designed to promote trade and investment.
"The important thing about the (Brazil-U.S.) CEOs Forum is that it is led by the private sector," Gutierrez said. "They will be telling governments what they think is necessary to develop the path toward greater trade, investment and job-creation."
Specifically commenting on the Brazilian business environment, he said: "The complexities of Brazil's business environment are often a barrier to doing business. These include high tariffs, the tax burden and a judicial system that is slow to enforce business law."