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Brazil agribusiness wants looser ties to China, India in WTO talks

by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) July 16, 2008
Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector on Wednesday called for the country to step away from an alliance with China and India in WTO talks next week to concentrate on securing immediate farm trade deals.

"The most productive sector in the Brazilian economy must not be held back by the drive to secure a greater trade opening for less competitive sectors," the Permanent Forum for Agricultural Negotiations (PFAN), a farm industry grouping, said in a public letter to the government.

Trade and foreign ministers from around the world are to hold talks at the World Trade Organization's headquarters in Geneva from next Monday with the aim of further liberalizing trade.

The continuation of the Doha Round of negotiations has been held up for four years by a conflict between developed and developing countries over opening farm and industrial sectors to imports.

Brazil, the co-leader of the G20 group of developing nations in the talks alongside India, has declined to seek bilateral deals for its farm and agribusiness trade while it pursues a broader multilateral trade deal in WTO talks.

Brasilia has said it will maintain the solidarity of the G20 -- which also includes China -- in the negotiations with Europe and the United States.

PFAN President Gilman Viana Rodrigues told reporters that that strategy benefited India and China more than Brazil.

It delivered "a certain level of concessions to protectionist countries that are not exporters ... and these concessions are going to diminish the ambition of countries like Brazil," he said.

Brazil's agricultural sector accounts for 24 percent of gross domestic product, 37 percent of jobs in the country, 36 percent of exports and "all of the trade surplus," the Forum's letter said.

Brazil has become one of the world's leading agricultural exporters. Over the past five years, agricultural exports have nearly doubled, and in 2007 they brought in 58.4 billion dollars.

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