New Delhi: Brazilian minister for development, industry and foreign trade Miguel Jorge was in the Capital, leading a 43-member business delegation, for bilateral trade discussions. On the sidelines of the meeting, he talked to Mint on an array of issues, ranging from Brazil’s stand in the Doha round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the delay in the ratification of the India-Mercosur preferential trade agreement (PTA). Edited excerpts:
There is considerable pressure within WTO, and especially from the European Union (EU), to conclude the ongoing Doha Round of negotiations within the next few months. However, India believes that there is still no consensus and is opposed to a hasty end to Doha. What is Brazil’s view?
Brazil’s foreign minister C.L.N. Amorim is heading the negotiations and he remains optimistic about the situation, but we have not yet achieved consensus on all the points.
Seeking balance: Brazil’s trade and industry minister Miguel Jorge says his country can supply many of the goods India buys from other nations.
Is there a time frame or deadline set by Brazil for the conclusion of the Doha round?
We don't have a timetable. A deadline makes sense only when there is consensus among the members. Actual results will matter more than any deadline.
India and Brazil have stuck closely together during WTO negotiations. India’s view is that the revised text on non-agriculture market access (NAMA) negotiations is aimed at dividing the developing world. How does Brazil view the situation?
We still do not have all the details and hence, cannot comment on it, but I can assure you that India and Brazil have a very strong partnership and they (the developed world) will not be able to break it. It’s a matter of principle.
Brazil has still not ratified PTA between India and Mercosur (a Latin American trade bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay). What has been the reason and how soon can it happen?
The Brazilian government, which is the executive arm, has given the approval to the PTA. However, all such agreements also need to be approved by the Congress. It is lying before the Congress. There is no specific reason for delay. The bureaucracy of the Congress takes some time. The Congress has around 160-odd agreements of all kinds pending to be approved. No deadline has been set for the approval, but hopefully it will be done within the next six months.
What were the issues raised by Brazil in the bilateral meeting?
We discussed a lot of things. The two most important points for which we asked (Indian commerce and industry) minister Kamal Nath to help us relate to the high tariff barriers to agriculture exports from Brazil such as orange juice. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of orange juice, but a high duty, around 30%, levied on them prevents any exports from Brazil to India. The same problem applies to the exports of chicken (from Brazil to India). We also told him about the investment of the Indian oil companies in Brazil.
India and Brazil had set a trade target of $10 billion (Rs40,200 crore) by 2010. However, at present the trade stands at $3.12 billion (for 2007-08). Are you happy with the trade flow and are you hopeful of achieving the target?
We could achieve the target but the trade is very unbalanced... It is tilted in favour of India. There are a lot of things India is buying from other countries that can be bought from Brazil. For example, machinery and other capital goods, and intermediate consumer goods.
India’s view is that as and when the Brazilian Embraer aircraft, for which orders have been placed at the company level, are delivered, the trade figure will become more balanced. Do you agree?
I don't think it will change anything in the short term. Moreover, I am not aware if we are delivering so many planes to India that it could make a big difference in the trade balance.
Brazil has initiated anti-dumping investigations against the export of jute yarn and polyester films from India. However, the India government has resented the move. Was there any decision on this during the bilateral meeting with the Indian minister for commerce?
These are not new issues. The investigations are demanded by (domestic) companies that get hurt and under the WTO agreement, the (Brazilian) government will investigate. The Indian minister asked us to see what was going on. Typically, any accusation of dumping has to be approved by seven ministries in Brazil and if it is an unjust call (of claiming injury), then it is put down in one of the ministries. We will look into the matter.
India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) had sent a sample consignment for the Brazilian firm Unitrading. However, the consignment has not been given clearance by the Brazilian customs department. The Indian government wanted to take up this issue with Brazil. Is there any movement in this regard?
We heard that seven samples for some exhibition in Sao Paulo were blocked by the customs. We will look into the matter, but this is a very small matter.
What has been the most positive aspect of your visit to India?
Normally, when you have a presidential visit, it’s more institutional...more political. But when you come with a business delegation, then real business happens...company to company...which is important for both countries. But results will not be immediate... They will take some time.