SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — A deal on the Doha round of the World Trade Organization talks is closer than people think, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Wednesday and called on Brazil to rally other countries to support it.
Gutierrez's comments came a day after United States trade officials slammed Brazil, India and South Africa for refusing to open up their manufacturing markets in World Trade Organization talks, despite recent concessions by Washington on the sensitive topic of farm subsidies
''Now it's too big of an opportunity to let it slip away,'' Gutierrez said speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo. ''The deal is closer than people think.''
The Doha round aims to add billions of dollars to the world economy and lift millions of people out of poverty through free trade. But they have repeatedly stalled since their inception in Qatar's capital in 2001, largely because of wrangling between rich and poor nations over eliminating barriers to farm trade and, more recently, manufacturing trade.
Gutierrez said that discussions have already led to the text of viable agreement, but that countries have to get on board and approve what has been discussed.
Gutierrez did not specify which countries were on board with the agreement but said Brazil's support would be instrumental.
''It's time now for Brazil to make a strong commitment, because Brazil can persuade other developing countries to do the same,'' he said. ''Countries around the world developing and advanced countries look up to Brazil. Brazil is admired, a leader because it has tremendous influence.''
Gutierrez heads to Brasilia, the nation's capital, later in the day to meet with his Brazilian counterpart Miguel Jorge as well as the ministers for foreign relations and finance. On Thursday, he will participate in a forum with CEO from major American and Brazilian companies.