Brazil - Looking at the WTO

2011-10-25 15:19:52

As Brazil gives up on any agreement being reached over the Doha round of global trade talks this year, it is expanding its team at the World Trade Organization to meet what it expects will be a surge in trade disputes.

"The Doha round talks are likely to end this year without any concrete results," said the ministry's subsecretary for economic affairs, Waldemar Carneiro Leao. "There is more unemployment, which has generated more protectionist and defensive measures, and negotiations have become much more difficult."

Brazil is already one of the most aggressive users of the WTO conflict-resolution system, having initiated some 28 cases over the last 16 years, and winning some notable actions in suits over goods such as cotton and orange juice trade with the U.S. and sugar with the European Union.

The country has also been studying the possibility of launching new suits against those partners over ethanol and beef trade.

Brazil has itself come under some scrutiny of late, since the introduction of new barriers to car imports which, according to government estimates, will raise the costs of some foreign-made cars by more than 20%. Nonetheless, officials said they don't expect to face any recriminations at the WTO.

"These measures don't in any way weaken our negotiating position at the WTO," said Brazil's representative at the organization, Roberto Azevedo. "Other countries are free to question them, but we'll be ready to defend them through the conflict-resolution process."

Brazil is doubling the size of its legal team at the WTO, and although officials said they had no plans to introduce new trade suits at the WTO this year, they noted it was important to be prepared for a contentious environment.

Earlier this year, the Brazilian government started what is likely to be a thorny and protracted discussion about the role of currencies in trade disputes. It argues that a number of countries around the world, including the U.S. and China, are deliberately weakening their currencies to boost their own exports, and that Brazil, with its free-floating currency, has suffered unduly.

Brazil has introduced taxes on some capital flows due to the steady appreciation of the country's currency, the real, against the dollar...

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