Despite delays in the negotiations, the Brazilian government believes it is still possible to save the so-called Doha Round, which faces its crucial moment at the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), scheduled to take place in Hong Kong, China, in December.
“We are confident that it is possible to reach a satisfactory conclusion, but it will demand a huge effort,” affirmed Ambassador Clodoaldo Hugueney, Undersecretary-General for Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty).
Hugueney was recently put in charge of the Brazilian mission in Geneva, where he will represent the country’s interests in the WTO.
In his view, real progress in the agreements “will require a change in attitude, especially on the part of the European Union and the United States, and a straightforward engagement in negotiations, beginning in September.”
But Brazil is not willing to accept just any agreement, the ambassador contends, assuring that the country has a “minimum agenda” for Hong Kong.
In the agricultural sphere, Itamaraty’s minimum agenda includes a definition of how much support for domestic production will be cut.
There is also a desire to discuss the new subsidy rules for the package known as the “Blue Box” (forms of domestic support that distort trade but contain limitations on production and cultivated area and are therefore allowed by the WTO) and the “Green Box” (forms of domestic support that are permitted and don’t distort trade, such as research, infrastructure, agrarian reform, and basic food baskets. These subsidies are not subject to reduction commitments).
The desired advances in agriculture include a definition of the cut to be made in market access tariffs, an agreement over how to treat sensitive products, and the determination of a date for the total elimination of export subsidies.
In the sphere of Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), the Brazilian government hopes that criteria are defined for tariff cuts, as well as how to treat certain industrial sectors that are more vulnerable to foreign competition.
There is also a minimum agenda for the service sector. Itamaraty defends a system in which each country decides what to open to foreign competition. The United States and the European Union are pushing for greater liberalization in this area, through a minimal commitment to open trade to all nations.
In the negotiations over services, the Brazilian government hopes that regulations will be set for the activities of foreign companies in the different sectors.
Regarding the so-called development themes, the minimum that is expected, according to Hugueney, is the approval of a definitive package of measures – special and differentiated treatment for relatively less developed countries, measures in the cotton sector. When it comes to expediting trade, Brazil wants a clear definition of the negotiating universe.
“This is a package for Hong Kong that would make it possible to meet the goal of concluding the negotiations in 2006,” the Brazilian ambassador emphasizes.
“If they are not concluded in 2006, it will be very difficult to conclude them in 2007, since there are complicating factors, such as the approval by the United States Congress of a new trade promotion law that confers negotiating powers on the Executive branch,” he warns.
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