August 3, 2008 / 12:54 AM / in 11 years

Brazil's Lula to seek rapid revival of trade talks

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil wants to restart collapsed global trade negotiations and believes an agreement can be reached within two months, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Saturday.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks before a cooperation agreement in Lisbon July 26, 2008. Brazil wants to restart collapsed global trade negotiations and believes an agreement can be reached within two months, Lula said on Saturday. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Marathon talks on a new global trade pact collapsed in Geneva on Tuesday as the United States and India refused to compromise over a proposal to help poor farmers deal with floods of imports.

“I think if we can resolve the problem between India and the United States, I think we’ll have an accord. It can take a month, two months, but we need to sign an accord,” Lula told reporters in Sao Paulo after a ceremony with metalworkers outside the city.

Lula spoke with U.S. President George W. Bush by telephone on Saturday and the two leaders expressed their disappointment over the collapse of the negotiations and their commitment to concluding an agreement.

“I said to President Bush that it’s not possible for people to just lie on the beach after so much work, after so much meeting and negotiation. I think, if the problem between India and the United States is resolved, an agreement will be signed,” he said.

Lula said he would speak to China’s president, Hu Jintao, during a planned visit to the Asian nation which hosts the Olympic Games starting Friday. He said he would also talk to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and possibly British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“Something abnormal happened, in my opinion, during the Doha Round. We were so close to making an agreement and it didn’t happen because of minor issues,” he said.

Ministers from about 35 key World Trade Organization countries reached about 80-85 percent of an outline for a trade deal on the core areas of agriculture and industrial goods.

But differences in these areas between rich and poor countries and importers and exporters proved too much to bridge.

The final stumbling block concerned the “special safeguard mechanism” — a proposal to let developing countries raise farm tariffs in the face of a surge in imports or collapse in prices.

Developing countries like India and Indonesia said they needed the measure to protect millions of subsistence farmers from unexpected shocks arising from opening up their borders.

But the United States feared its agribusinesses would lose new markets just as it made painful cuts in its farm subsidies.

Brazil, one of the world’s leading farm exporters, was a key player in the round as a leader of developing countries.

Reporting by Raymond Colitt and Fernanda Ezabella; writing by Peter Murphy; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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