For Brazil, Doha’s Failed WTO Talks Are Still Very Much Alive

Brazilian ambassador Roberto Azevedo Brazilian ambassador Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo, the leading negotiator for Brazil in Geneva, stated that the Doha Round has not reached an end yet, and that the country aims to keep on "pursuing this window of opportunities," which may open up in September. Furthermore, he claimed, the success of negotiations will depend on political commitment.

"We have a short time span left for attempting to conclude an agreement before the year ends, and we were expecting to reach an agreement by December," he said.

According to Azevedo, political leaders are staying in touch, "mostly by telephone," to try and resume negotiations and to determine two issues: whether there is a solution to the issue of the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries, and also whether there are other issues that might also lead to a stalemate.

"This is the aim of these talks: we are trying to find the answers to these two issues, so we can determine if it is worth making an extra effort in the coming weeks," he said.

The ambassador compared his role as a negotiator in Geneva to that of a marathon runner. "As a negotiator, I feel as if I am running a marathon whose course has not been defined yet. The race is on and you are running, but you do not know where the finish line is. At times you imagine that it is right around the bend, but when you make the curve, you realize that it is not there," he said.

"The Doha Round will only fail when the marathon runner decides to sit by the side of the road and say 'I quit.' As long as I am running, I am hoping for that finish line to come up. And this is where we stand," stated the ambassador.

During a press conference, he asserted that the hindrance to the conclusion of the Doha Round is of a political nature, namely the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries.

"The SSMs posed a problem. India did not accept them, China did not either, and there were two developing importer countries defending them. And the exporter countries – most of all the United States – did not accept, and Australia did not either."

However, he does not believe the problem to be definitive. "My impression is that if we had another four or five days in Geneva, we would have solved this problem."

The ambassador does not agree with the idea of putting an end to negotiations now and then starting a new phase. "What we have on the table right now is no small feat, it is good; it a result that would be advantageous to the country, from our vantage point. If we are able to ensure these results now, it would be much better than to bet on an absolutely uncertain scenario, which I cannot tell what will be like within a few years, and which may result in a much worse set of measures than the one we have on our table now."

Azevedo also stated that Brazil is still negotiating bilateral trade agreements with India, South Africa, Gulf countries and the European Union, although some of these agreements are conditioned to the conclusion of the negotiation round.

"The EU negotiating mandate stipulates that they can only negotiate for a free trade zone with the Mercosur after they conclude the Doha Round."

ABr

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