The result of Wednesday’s, May 4, mini-ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Paris “permits progress” in and provides the “key” to negotiations for the liberalization of international trade in agricultural products, according to Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, in an interview granted to journalists in Paris.
The transcription was released by the Itamaraty (Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations). “It was like the starting whistle to begin the game. Now comes the game.”
“The exporters made concessions, the importers made concessions, the developing countries made concessions, and the developed countries made concessions, but it is something that allows us to move ahead,” Amorim commented.
Representatives of 30 countries, including Brazil, were able to reach an agreement on the methodology used to calculate duties on agricultural imports.
“It was a technical issue that was deadlocking us. Without advancing on this item, we were unable to proceed with the rest of the negotiation. After two and a half days of intense negotiation, involving various groups, we achieved an agreement that will allow us to move on,” the Minister explained.
The participants at the meeting reached an agreement on the methodology to calculate how much protection a product receives in relation to its value. According to the Itamaraty, consensus on these calculations is important for negotiations such as the one currently being conducted between the Mercosur and the European Union.
“We want to advance in the direction of the elimination of subsidies and improved access to markets. It all depended upon this initial step,” Amorim explained.
According to the Minister, it was a victory for the Brazilian government.
“The victory is this: You are about to enter a room in which you will find various players, to ask for and make concessions. But we didn’t have the key to the room. They had misplaced the key before we arrived. We found the key and entered the room. Now we shall start to negotiate.”
Amorim reaffirmed that agriculture is vital to the Doha Round, the designation for the current sequence of negotiations among WTO members. “Agriculture is the driving force of the Doha Round. If there is no progress in agriculture, there won’t be progress in anything else.”
The expectation is that this mini-ministerial meeting will help the member countries arrive at a consensus at the VI WTO Ministerial Conference, scheduled to take place in December in Hong Kong. The Doha Round should be concluded in 2006.
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