Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 7 News List

EU, Brazil try to relaunch Doha trade talks


Leaders from the EU and Brazil said on Wednesday they believed they could rescue faltering global trade talks from collapse.

The WTO talks known as the Doha round have become bogged down mainly because of wrangling between rich countries, including the EU bloc, and poorer nations, such as Brazil, over removing barriers to trade in farm products and manufactured goods.

"It is still possible to save Doha. Brazil and the EU want to save Doha ... A deal is still possible," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after a one-day summit with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"We found our positions are not as far apart as they seemed," Barroso said.

The WTO warned earlier this week that failure over the next four weeks to agree on a framework for a deal could prevent an agreement for at least three years.

"We won't give up on Doha. We won't stop trying to reach agreement," Lula said.

The long-standing differences on tariffs for agricultural and industrial goods caused talks last month in Germany among the WTO's four biggest powers -- the US, EU, Brazil and India -- to break down.

Lula said the Lisbon summit and a plan for a political and economic alliance between the EU and Brazil opened up possibilities for a new push toward a world trade pact.

"I think there is a willingness to get back together and look again at what we can do," Lula said, adding he wanted to ensure "at least a small gain" for poorer nations in the negotiations.

"We realized our positions are close and that it's worthwhile keeping on," said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who hosted the summit as current EU president. "Let there be no doubt that this summit has relaunched the [trade] negotiations."

Trade officials say major concessions are unlikely next year, when US elections will be held, and 2009, when Indian elections are scheduled. That means a breakthrough must be made before next month to give the WTO enough time to complete the technical work on a final treaty by the end of the year.

At the Lisbon summit the 27-nation EU proposed an agreement to Brazil that would grant Latin America's largest country the same "strategic partner" status as China, India and Russia -- the world's other major developing economies.

Barraso said the new cooperation framework, which Brazil is to examine, would also provide a push towards a trade deal between the EU and the five-nation Latin American Mercosur bloc.

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