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“Preliminary” WTO discussions between US and Brazil

Wednesday, January 3rd 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim

Brazil's Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim, met Wednesday with United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab in New York as part of efforts to get World Trade Organization talks restarted, but both called the discussion preliminary.

The so-called Doha round of talks on easing trade global restrictions was put on hold last July, as acrimony escalated over how much developed countries should open their markets to allow poorer nations export their agricultural output, thus cutting farmers' support and exports' subsidies. With President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva just installed in Brazil for a second term, and a shift in power soon to be completed in the U.S. Congress, Amorim and U.S. Trade Representative Schwab said it was time to for them to resume discussing how to get real negotiations started. "There's a lot of hard bargaining ahead. ... I confirmed that today," Amorim said. "We're not here to negotiate, much less to find a specific breakthrough, but to look for ways to having a breakthrough." The talks are complicated by Bush's possible loss in July of "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade deals unless Congress, now under Democrat control, extends it. "We now are in a period where we'd like to see a step-up in pace," Schwab said, "but it's the content, not the calendar, that will dictate." Amorim agreed but added that there was a sense of "urgency" in getting talks restarted. "It's not a question so much of artificial deadlines, but of the credibility of the process," Amorim said. "People can wait up to a point, but after a certain period, they will look for other possibilities." Amorim has warned that Brazil's foreign policy priority in President Lula's second mandate will continue to be integration with South American countries, particularly through Mercosur and other developing nations from Asia and Africa. Brazil is also one of the leaders of the G 20 or Group of 20 nations which combats farm subsidies in rich countries and has become a spokesperson for WTO negotiations.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

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