Brazil's Foreign Affairs Minister, Celso Amorim, said that developed nations' agricultural subsidies and tariff barriers for farm goods remain the biggest obstacle to an agreement on the long-stalled Doha round of World Trade Organization talks.
"The text made no advances in terms of market access; the latest proposals are too vague and may represent a step back for Doha talks." Amorim said, following a meeting of ministers from Mercosur, to prepare for talks in Geneva next week.
"Our common position is that the motor is agriculture and the velocity has not yet been defined," said Amorim talking for the group. Brazil holds Mercosur chair in the second half of 2008.
The talks have been on a long stalemate because of a standoff between developing nations – which want more access for their agricultural products in the United States, the European Union and Japan – and rich nations, which want more access for their industrial goods and services in the developing world.
Amorim said the latest proposal would allow more products in developed nations to be subjected to tariffs than in earlier agreements and is too vague about what level of agricultural subsidies would be allowed.
His remarks contrasted with a more positive view offered Monday by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
In his weekly radio program, Silva said he believed the developed nations were prepared to cede ground if poorer nations opened their markets to industrial goods and services.
The Rio meeting was convened by Brazil to "coordinate" positions among Mercosur members ahead of next week's meeting of trade ministers in Geneva. Besides Amorim, Argentina was represented by Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana, Paraguay by deputy minister Didier Olmedo and Uruguay, Deputy minister Pedro Vaz.
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