Ministerial negotiations on global trade's first day, at this week's meeting in Geneva of the Trade Negotiations Committee, brought conflicting opinions about prospects for an agreement.
While the head of the World Trade Organization. Pascal Lamy, said he was convinced that WTO member states would be able to reach agreements on international trade, Brazil's chief negotiator, Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim, described the first day session as "totally useless."
"No surprises, but also no ideas. We're at the same point than before the meeting started," insisted Amorim.
But Lamy referring to the Doha Round of negotiations on international trade which began in 2001, he said that members are "within reach of a major step in our drive to conclude the Round this year" and added that he could think of "no stronger spur for our action than the threats facing the world economy across several fronts, including rises in food prices and energy prices and financial market turbulences."
Amorim accepted maybe it was a meeting that had to take place, "but totally useless as far as I'm concerned, because I did not hear a single new idea, new suggestion. Let's wait for tomorrow."
Lamy on the other hand stressed that "there is widespread recognition that a balanced outcome of the Doha Round could in these circumstances provide a strong push to stimulate economic growth, providing better prospects for development and ensuring a stable and more predictable trading system."
In his opening remarks to the Committee this Monday Lamy said that the aim of this week's negotiations was to establish formal blueprint agreements for trade in agriculture as well as industrial products.
US Trade Representative Susan Schwab was closer to Mr. Lamy than Mr. Amorim.
"Some countries have begun to talk about what we can really achieve, focusing in what can be done and not in what can't be achieved," said Schwab.
Argentina's Foreign Secretary Jorge Taiana said he expects that as of tomorrow Tuesday discussions become "more specific."
"We have a full week's work ahead, but a week where we must correct misbalances in the agriculture and industrial products negotiations," said Taiana.
"It's obvious that the increase in agriculture and food prices are evidence of the negative effects that 60 years of distortions have generated," he underlined.
An estimated 30 delegates from participating countries addressed the informal session of the Committee, with more delegations from the WTO 152 members expected to speak on Tuesday.