Brazil is willing to wait until 2012 in order to secure a better deal on the negotiating table at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), its Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Saturday.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, where WTO talks are set to enter a crucial new phase on Monday, he said a failure next week would put back the conclusion of an agreement by another three or four years.
The Geneva meeting will bring together around 30 big WTO players in a bid to salvage the so-called Doha Round of trade liberalisation talks, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and which has struggled ever since with developed and developing countries alike refusing to budge on their core interests.
"If we wait, we will obtain a better agreement" than the one currently on offer, said the minister, adding that public opinion was "changing in our favour." Amorim is the developing world's main representative in the WTO talks and the public face of the G20, the grouping of developing countries co-led by Brazil and India.
He is seen as a hard negotiator committed to seeing wealthy countries cut agricultural subsidies that are barriers to farm imports from Brazil and other nations. Amorim accused developed countries of demanding too much from other countries. "One cannot snatch the maximum from the weakest and give only the minimum in exchange," he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at the end of May that the European Union, which is negotiating with the WTO, had "nothing" to gain from emerging countries on industrial products and services and had already made too many concessions over agricultural issues.
On this, Amorim said the agreement on the table with the WTO would oblige Brazil to reduce its customs duties on half its imports and that its highest duties would come down by a third from around 35 to 25 percent. On services he said that Brazil would make an offer on Thursday in Geneva after three days of negotiation dedicated to agriculture and industrial products.
Amorim, who had talks on Saturday with WTO head Pascal Lamy, said he had asked him to allow enough time for states to negotiate possible changes to draft agreements on the table. "Otherwise you may have a Cancun-like scenario," he warned, referring to WTO talks that collapsed in Mexico in 2003. He added: "I come here to have a deal. Of course, this is not an easy task and certain things will have to be clarified before we know if we have a deal."
At issue in next week's talks are agricultural and manufacturing trade barriers. The industrialized countries are seeking greater access to developing markets for their manufactured goods, while in return developing countries want lower farm subsidies and agricultural tariffs in the developed world.
Whoa, this latest salvo from the Brazilian Foreign Minister and chief negotiatior on behalf of the LDCs prior to the upcoming WTO mini-ministerial meeting in Geneva makes me even more curious about what will happen. Figuratively speaking, the Doha round has been traumatized, anesthesized, lobotomized...and now, perhaps deeply Cancunized after that legendarily tragicomic ministerial meeting in 2003. In the event that the rich industrialized countries are unwilling to move on agriculture, Celso Amorim is saying it would not be an especially big deal if the round were delayed for another four years [and the crowd chants, "four more years!"] if it takes that long to gain a better deal. Is it just me or are things going nowhere fast? It would be a minor miracle if a deal that advances matters significantly is brought to pass given the rancorous nature of the pre-meeting rhetoric from all sides involved which I have been posting on these past few few days. From Agence-France Presse: