Mercosur’s prominent members expressed their satisfaction over the frustrated WTO summit in Cancun last week. Brazil's Lula went further: "There's a new relationship with the rich countries". As poorer nations stood firm and united on demands for the overturn of agriculture subsidies in developed countries, the WTO’s fifth Ministerial Summit collapsed last week
However, developing, but efficient food producing, countries, obtained a moral victory as refused to compromise on demands for steep cuts in the subsidies those rich countries pay their farmers.
For the first time since the beginning of the Doha Round, meant to get freer trade back on the rails after the Seattle debacle in 1999, food exporters joined to demand USA and the European Union to cut out subsidies. As such, they formed the G-22, a group of 22 countries, which includes China, India, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Pakistan and Thailand, among others.
The G-22 or Cairns Group went to Cancun with an program to setback subsidies and stood firmly in its position. Despite failure, they frustrated the rich countries' intention to extend "peace clause" ruling further, which would mean that from the start of January 2004 any country will be able to make claims of unfair trading before the WTO.
According to sources present in Cancun, Brazil led the G-22, together with India and Argentina, as all developing countries expect to maintain the same level of cooperation during the next meeting scheduled for December.
During a meeting with local businessmen, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva expressed his satisfaction on the outcomes of the summit. "Something extraordinary happened in Cancun: we built up a new relationship with the developed world", said Lula enthusiastically. Then, the leader of Brazilian Workers Party, said: "This will be the century of Latin America".
As a way to prove Brazil's leadership in the region, Lula explained his strategy in Cancun: "We did not get what we wanted, but neither they (USA and the EU)". "We are not asking for prerogatives or favors: we just want an equal foreign trade policy to compete freely in the global market", he insisted.
Argentina is also optimistic concerning WTO talks fail. As one of world's largest food producers it is very interested in see subsidies lowered. Buenos Aires worked actively in a protocol to drive back the issue into the negotiation table, as made proposals to ease USA opposition. However, Washington's representatives became angry with the G-22’s hard lobbying and opted to suspend discussions until December.
India, in turn, expressed its satisfaction for the results of the summit as said it was a "moral triumph" of the "have-nots" over the "haves". For New Delhi, the balance of power had tilted the other way because the developing world doggedly held on to their position, refusing to give way to the rich countries
One thing is certain: if the rich nations refuse to reduce high agriculture and export subsidies, the developing countries will refuse to take on board more commitments until they do so.