TWN Info Service on WTO Issues (Oct03/6)
25 October 2003
Third World Network
Dear friends and colleagues
The Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mr Celson Amorim, was in Geneva a few days ago and gave a press briefing at the WTO.
Below is a report on the briefing by Goh Chien Yen of TWN.
with best wishes
G20 will stick together, says Brazil Foreign Minister
By Goh Chien Yen (TWN), Geneva, 23 October 2003
Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, has said that although some countries had left the Group of 20 developing countries (dealing with agriculture issues in the WTO), more countries would join the alliance when the negotiations begin again.
Speaking at a press briefing at the WTO on Wednesday evening, Mr Amorim said he was confident the G20 would stick together as it was a pragmatic group with concrete proposals. The group would also reach out to the poorer developing countries and take their concerns on board.
Mr Amorim was on a visit to Geneva where he attended a meeting of the G20, and also met with the Chairman of the General Council and the WTO Director General.
He said that the Director General recognizes that in order for there to be progress on the negotiations, the G20 has to be dealt with as one of the main interlocutors.
“I also had a rewarding meeting with the G20. There is a sense of unity and determination to work together towards a successful conclusion of the Round,” he said at the briefing.
However, it was pointed out that some countries have left the G20 and the cohesion of the group is questioned.
The Minister said, however, that he was confident that when the negotiations begin and gather pace, more countries will join the grouping. This is because, he pointed out “we are a pragmatic group, with concrete proposals.”
He later added that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In Cancun we stuck together. I don’t see any lack of cohesion on our proposal.”
It requires “skillful engineering” to bring together so many countries, he said. “People think we cannot do it, but we did.” He also revealed that he just came from India and had several meetings with different ministries of the Indian government. India is a member of the G20 grouping.
Amorim also pointed out that the needs of the poorest countries have to be taken into account in the negotiations. In this regard, “one of the thing, we discussed when I met with the G20 Ambassadors is that we will continue to reach out to the other groups. Everybody has to show some degree of generosity, and we are willing to do so as well, taking into consideration of the interests of the LDCs such as trade preference erosion. The time when a few countries can impose their own interests on all is finished.”
On whether the Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez’s text issued in Cancun would form the basis of further negotiations, the Brazilian Minister said that this would be a matter for deeper discussion. On agriculture specifically, while Derbez’s text is not the best from the G20’s point of view, the grouping “will not have difficulty on starting from where they left off.”
This he continued, is also indicative of the grouping’s flexibility in order to make progress on the agriculture issue, when asked whether the grouping was willing to adopt a give and take approach to the negotiations. He also pointed out that the developing countries have been giving for a long time. “We gave more than we took during the Uruguay Round.”
On the Singapore issues, the Minister reminded that Brazil is not a demandeur, and that within certain parameters, they may be willingly to discuss the issues. However, he pointed out that “there is a great number of countries that are not willing to. In today’s context, you cannot write a paper and ignore the concerns of 80 countries. That is not the way to do it.”
On a further question whether the Singapore issues are presently off the negotiating table, the Minister pointed out that the agenda of the current round is overloaded, “if some issues are left behind, that would help in the conclusion of a successful round.”