‘Pig-Headed’ Brazil’s Lula Talks to Bush, Says World Will Still Get Trade Accord

Bush and Lula during US president visit to Brazil The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva says that he believes the Doha round global trade talks have not failed and anticipated that Brazil will insist that negotiations should continue until a satisfactory agreement for all is reached.

"I don't think the Doha round has failed. I think that there have been difficulties and when there are difficulties it's better to stop and rethink how to continue," said Lula during his weekly broadcast program "Breakfast with the President."

He added it was possible to take advantage of the advances so far, and at the political level "to cut into those existing small differences which impeded an agreement" at the recent WTO (World Trade Organization) Geneva ministerial meeting.

Lula revealed that he had been on the phone with US president George W. Bush and that while in Beijing for the inauguration of the Olympic Games he would talk with Chinese president Hu Jintao and on the phone to India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The ministerial meeting in Geneva last month failed precisely because of differences mainly between the US and India regarding farm produce safeguards.

"We have chances of reaching an agreement. Last Saturday I was on the phone with President Bush and was straight to the point: it is not possible that two important countries such as the US and India which are discussing a nuclear agreement don't have conditions to reach an agreement on the food issue, when there's so little to be overcome."

Lula went on to say that those speculating with the end of negotiations are going to loose, "because we will succeed with a Doha Round agreement; it can take another month, two months, but we are going to conclude them successfully."

"We are going to continue insisting. Everybody knows I'm pig headed and we are going to reach an agreement. It's only a matter of time," he added.

The Brazilian president underlined the significance of an agreement for the world's poorest countries and recalled that negotiations have demanded seven years but again began evolving in the last two years.

"When we asked the Europeans to be more flexible with their agriculture market and when we asked the US to lower its farm subsidies it's because we want poor countries to be able to sell their produce to the rich and thus motivated, they can produce more grains and food. So this way we won't have a food crisis in our hands as we have now," he said.

Lula pointed out that Brazil will continue trade negotiations in all multilateral instances and in agreements between Mercosur and other blocks such as the European Union.

"And we will continue to insist in lowering subsidies because it's shameful that rich countries subsidize their exports. That is highly damaging for competition."

As to Brazil's role in the last Doha round Geneva meeting "we acted responsibly on accepting an agreement on industrial products and we want others to assume the same responsibility and risks we've taken."

Nevertheless he admitted that the Doha round problems are more "political than technical" since presidential elections are scheduled for next November in the US and in India the following year, "and this has great implications because farmers in the world are many and have a strong voice."




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