E-drug: Brazil's Lula slams rich nations on trade
Brazil's Lula slams rich nations on trade
By John Zarocostas, 2 June 2003
United Press International
GENEVA, Switzerland, June 2 (UPI) -- Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva, Monday slammed the world's leading industrialized
countries for pursuing protectionist policies while preaching the
virtues of free trade.
"Sectors in which developing countries have much more
competitiveness such as in agribusiness, the textile industry, the steel
industry, among many other sectors, are subject to protectionist trade
practices from the highly industrialized world," he said in a keynote
speech to the International Labor Organization here.
Lula said the resistance of the developed countries to eliminate the
billions in agricultural subsidies, and their arbitrary practices, shows
that they "are totally lacking coherence with their own defense of free
trade. This lack of coherence between speech discourse and practice
provokes skepticism and mistrust."
Lula's remarks echoed views shared by many other developing
Brazil has strong views on agriculture are very much shared by us, a
WTO ambassador from a major agricultural exporting country, who
spoke on condition of non-attribution, told United Press International.
"We cannot be passive and just gaze at the disparity that exists
between the islands of wealth and oceans of poverty," said Lula, a
former trade union leader and child laborer.
But his remarks, coming less than a day after he and 12 other
developing world leaders met with G-8 leaders during their annual
summit Sunday in the resort town of Evian -- on the French side of
Lake Geneva -- are at variance with the position of the G-8.
The G-8 includes the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, the
United Kingdom, France, Italy and Russia.
The divergence of views reflects a growing North-South divide ahead
of a crucial WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in
September to try to inject momentum in the troubled WTO Doha
round talks which faces a Jan. 1, 2005, deadline.
The Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also pressed G-8
leaders Sunday on the need to remove trade distorting agricultural
subsidies and to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers hindering
developing poor countries exports, trade sources said.
Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary-general, the chief of the World Trade
Organization, Supachai Panitchpakdi, and the heads of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund also attended.
On June 1, the U.N. chief told a G-8 leaders' session that developing
countries "need better access to global markets, which means a
Doha round that lowers agricultural subsidies and brings down
barriers to imports from poorer countries."
Ahead of the Evian summit, Annan in a letter to G-8 leaders argued
that decisions on trade would be especially crucial for the developing
"It is through trade that the peoples of developing countries can hope
to share in, and contribute to, the general prosperity of mankind,"
Meanwhile, in a statement on trade issued Monday at Evian, the G-8
leaders stressed that they will provide leadership in the talks "so that
improved access to markets for all WTO members is realized,
particularly for the poorest."
They also pointed out the global talks are central to the G-8's
approach to "energizing the global economy," increasing
development and eradicating poverty.
"The G-8 are facing realities and the message is clear. All G-8
countries are concerned to have a good (WTO) negotiation," said a
senior trade negotiator from a G-8 country, who declined to be
"The message from the G8 is useful," he added.
The G-8 also said they are committed that the Cancun conference.
However, the WTO talks -- launched in November 2001 in Doha,
Qatar, have missed crucial deadlines on agreeing to terms for
lowering barriers to trade in agriculture -- at the end of March and on
industrial goods on May 31.
Global trade in goods and services last year totaled $7.7 trillion.
The United States favors the elimination of agricultural export
subsidies and slashing tariffs and domestic farm support measures.
However, G-8 members France, Italy and Japan, with problematic
farm sectors are apprehensive to radical trade reforms in this domain.
Similarly, the Bush administration which supports the scrapping of all
industrial duties by 2015 in the current WTO talks, faces strong
opposition from the troubled domestic steel and textiles industries.
Overall, G-8 countries want developing countries to also agree to
deep tariff cuts, something many say they are not in a position to
deliver because of their lower levels of development and continued
high dependence on customs duties for government budgets.
WTO member countries have also yet to agree on terms to provide
poor nations without adequate manufacturing capability can secure
access to essential drugs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and
A deal was nearly clinched last December but failed to materialize
because of objections by the United States that it could put in
jeopardy intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies.
On June 2, the advocacy group Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
denounced what it termed the G-8 countries "continued insistence on
limiting the ability of developing countries to access affordable drugs."
On a brighter note, Lula said that "with political will" one can correct
distortions, fight hunger and poverty and establish equitable trade
He said he was in favor of international trade "that should be truly
free" to have much more investment in the productive sector, to have
much more technological and scientific cooperation, Lula said.
"We need to integrate to the dynamic stream of the international
economy so that we can modernize our societies," he added.
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