August 29, 2017 / 2:14 PM / 10 months ago

WTO chief says Brazil actively trying to lift restrictions on meat trade

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil is engaged in World Trade Organization committee talks aimed at eliminating potential barriers to poultry and pork exports, with an upcoming summit in December the next opportunity to advance agreements benefiting its farm exports, the head of the WTO said.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo attends the APEC Ministers Responsible For Trade meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool

Brazil has proposed the adoption of strict scientific criteria related to sanitary standards in the food trade in one committee, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told a conference on Tuesday.

Sanitary barriers based on “scientifically questionable” claims are among factors restricting free trade and should be reviewed, he said.

“More than 900 such barriers were discussed at our committees,” he said, adding Brazil and other nations are presently discussing “a point of convergence” regarding the matter.

At the same time Brazil and the European Union have an interest in advancing talks to reduce subsidies distorting trade, although no agreement is in sight yet, he added.

The EU, Brazil and three other Latin American countries introduced a WTO proposal in July aimed at reducing farm subsidies.

“For it to be possible to reduce subsidies it is necessary that all countries change. Otherwise it is like unilateral disarmament,” Azevedo said.

The WTO will hold a ministerial conference in Buenos Aires in early December.

Azevedo’s comments underscored the importance of eliminating protectionist barriers at a time when global trade growth remains weak.

The WTO predicts 2017 will be the sixth consecutive year of growth in global trade below 3 percent, making for the slowest pace of growth since World War Two, he said.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Chizu Nomiyama

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