The Associated PressPublished: September 11, 2007
STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Brazil's president said Tuesday that he was
"convinced" that rich and poor countries would resolve disputes that
have bogged down global trade talks.
The World Trade Organization talks, launched in Doha, Qatar's capital,
have come to a standstill because of differences between the United
States, the European Union, Brazil and India on eliminating trade
barriers to agricultural produce and manufactured goods.
"Everyone knows what they want. Now we need to know whether the
numbers will meet," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told reporters
during a visit to Stockholm.
"I am convinced that we can come to an agreement, even if it's not
that agreement we've all dreamed of in all the poorest countries," he
said. "But it must be an agreement that will allow people to have hope
that things will improve in world trade."
Brazil and India have criticized the United States for its failure to
offer deep enough cuts in farm subsidies, which critics claim unfairly
deflate international prices, making it impossible for poorer nations
to develop their economies by selling farm produce abroad.
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The U.S. and the European Union are both seeking greater
opportunities for their manufacturing exporters, but have met fierce
resistance from emerging countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India
and South Africa, which fear exposing their fledgling industries to
competition from rich countries and China.
Silva said he was hoping the EU would help provide a breakthrough.
"We are counting on the European Union for us to once and for all be
able to conclude the Doha round," he said.
The WTO has already missed countless deadlines in the so-called Doha
round of trade talks, which aims to add billions of dollars to the
world economy and lift millions of people out of poverty.
Silva was in Sweden as part of a Nordic tour to boost trade and
promote Brazil's biofuel program.
At a joint news conference, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
announced his country intends to drop a Swedish tax on ethanol by
2009, and also put pressure on the EU to eliminate tariffs on ethanol.
Sweden is one of Europe's biggest importers of ethanol from Brazil,
which has been touting its sugarcane-based biofuel around the world as
a cheap, eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels amid soaring oil
prices and global warming concerns.
The two countries signed an agreement to cooperate on biofuel research
and work toward the creating of a global market for biofuels.