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Speed dating Brown seeks Brazilian partner for trip abroad

March 26th, 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown shouldn’t have to work too hard to convince Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of his anti-protectionism message in talks in Brazil this week, ahead of April’s G20 summit.

Gordon Brown: Banging free trade drum Photo: 10 Downing Street, flickr

Gordon Brown: Banging free trade drum Photo: 10 Downing Street, flickr

Brown is investing much time, effort and political capital in hosting next’s month’s summit, and will be encouraged to hear Lula has already been out doing some of his work for him - at least in Washington.

Brazil has already voiced strong opposition to the ‘Buy American’ clause in the U.S. package of measures, aimed at reviving its ailing economy.

The prime minister will also be urging President Lula to back his calls for tighter regulation of the global financial sector to prevent the world getting into the same mess when things pick up.

Brazil hasn’t suffered from the banking crisis to the same extent as some of other the world’s major economies, but even so Brown will see Lula leader of the world’s tenth biggest economy as an important ally at the G20 summit.

But next month Lula may have to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between those in the United States who say the European Union member states are not doing enough to stimulate demand, while Europeans are worried at what they see as a U.S. reluctance to put in place measures to prevent the world sliding back into crisis.

Photo: 10 Downing Street, flickr

Photo: 10 Downing Street, flickr

Rallying cry

By Brown’s side in Brazil will be his Business Secretary Peter Mandelson who will be giving his view on how to solve the global economic crisis to industry leaders in São Paulo on Thursday.

Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner is likely to echo the rallying cry of Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization  (WTO) for a strong commitment from global leaders to wrap up the stalled Doha round of world trade negotiations that have dragged on for eight years.

Doha aims to boost international commerce by lowering barriers to trade between countries, but despite several attempts to jump-start talks, differences on agricultural subsidies, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies have derailed the process.

The biggest bones of contention are between the big beasts of world trade, the European Union and the United States, and major developing countries, such as Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

While Brazil and others want the United States and Europe to tackle the thorny issue of cutting subsidies paid to their farmers, to allow exports to compete on level playing field, wealthier nations want greater access to Brazilian and other countries’ goods and service markets.

It’s not clear who if anyone will give ground to break the deadlock, but the economic crisis has at least added to the sense of urgency to get talks moving again.

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