US, Brazil wrangle over farm subsidies

Potsdam, June 20:

The United States and Brazil disagreed over how far the US should cut farm subsidies as part of a global trade pact, officials said, as the WTO four most powerful members began five days of crunch trade talks.

The meeting involving the US, EU, Brazil and India has been described as crucial if the WTO is to succeed in concluding a deal to liberalise world trade in agriculture, manufacturing and services by the end of the year.

Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said the meeting started with an analysis of the current situation in the trade talks known as the Doha round launched in 2001. The discussions then moved to agriculture, and particularly to the sensitive question of government handouts to American farmers.

“We made our case. We heard some rebuttals,” Amorim said. “I think our case was stronger than the rebuttals. Let us see.” Officials with knowledge of what happened in the private meeting said the American and Brazilian positions were closer than the two countries have publicly stated.