Brazilian Minister Rushes to Geneva in Effort to Break WTO’s Stalemate

    Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, will travel to Geneva this weekend in an attempt to give a fillip to the negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) over fairer trade rules.

    Negotiators from the 180-plus member countries of the organization were unable to achieve the desired progress towards the so-called modalities document and will not be able to meet the April 30 deadline set in December at the Hong Kong Ministerial Summit.

    In the case of agriculture, which is considered the "driving force" of the current round of negotiations, the modalities include definitions of the tariff reduction formula, the coverage of lists of products considered sensitive, and the operation of safeguards. The modalities should have been determined by the beginning of 2003.

    At an informal gathering on Monday, April 24, with heads of delegations, the director-general of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, admitted the failure.

    In his speech, published in full on the official site of the WTO, Lamy declared that significant advances had been made but not with the necessary speed to reach an agreement on modalities.

    Amorim decided to go to Geneva to meet with several ministers, even if informally. On Saturday, April 29. the Brazilian chancellor will meet with the Indian Minister of Trade, Kamal Nath, with whom he divides the leadership of the G-20.

    On Monday, May 1st, he will meet with the coordinator of the Cairns Group, which is formed by 18 countries that export agricultural products, and the Australian minister of Trade, Mark Vaile.

    He will also have dinner with the United States Trade Representative, Rob Portman, and Susan Schwab, who has been named to succeed him.

    On Tuesday, May 2, Amorim will participate in a meeting of the G-20 and a working lunch with the director-general of the WTO, Lamy.

    Agência Brasil

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