(recasts, adding U.S. comments)
BRASILIA, May 31 (Reuters) - Senior officials from Brazil and the United States, adversaries in trade talks, voiced optimism on Thursday that negotiations on a global trade deal were gathering momentum despite remaining divisions.
Brazil’s foreign minister said he was “rather confident” a accord could be reached in coming weeks and said his country was prepared to improve a tariff offer on manufactured goods.
“I see the negotiators are becoming nervous and that is a sign something may happen,” Celso Amorim told Reuters in Brasilia.
“It’s a positive nervousness, they are making phone calls almost every other day, there are a number of meetings.”
In Washington, outgoing U.S. farm negotiator Richard Crowder said talks in the so-called Doha round were moving in the right direction.
“There is a restlessness that people tell me exists in Geneva among a lot of countries ... I think that it’s important that it does move quickly. We don’t have forever,” Crowder told Reuters on his last day on the job.
The Doha round was launched more than five years ago and aims to boost the global economy and lift millions from poverty. But deep differences, mainly over farm trade, have meant the negotiators have missed deadline after deadline.
Representatives from Brazil, India, the European Union and the United States -- the so-called G4 group -- will hold a series of bilateral talks beginning on Friday.
Amorim said Brazil could be flexible in its tariff offer on manufactured goods.
“We will be able to show flexibility provided the other aspects of the negotiations, especially agriculture, are going well,” he said.
The offer would include additional tariff reductions as well as the inclusion or exclusion of sensitive products.
Brazil’s last offer was to reduce bound tariffs -- the maximum tariffs it can apply -- by about 50 percent.
Europe’s trade and agriculture commissioners, Peter Mandelson and Mariann Fischer Boel, will discuss the talks with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in Brussels on Friday.
Amorim will meet Schwab in London on Saturday, accompany President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on a state visit to India on Sunday, and meet Mandelson in Geneva on June 9.
The G4 group is to gather on June 19 in what Amorim called a “decisive” meeting where final offers would be made.
Developing countries, led by Brazil and India, are pushing for the United States and other rich countries to reduce generous support for farmers. The rich countries want more access for their manufactured goods and for services.
The United States has taken heat from critics who believe it is not making the right concessions to ensure poor countries gain from a new trade deal.
Crowder was circumspect about the timing and pace of the talks. The United States had not already struck a deal with the European Union, he said, contrary to some media reports. (Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt in Brasilia and Missy Ryan in Washington)
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