Brics: Bolsonaro argues for modernization of WTO and subsidy rules

The online event is based in India, president of the bloc since 2021

Published in 09/09/2021 - 16:27 By Andreia Verdélio - Brasília

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro today (Sep. 9) argued for “stepped-up cooperation” among Brics countries with a view to modernize the World Trade Organization (WTO). “To address the challenges of the 21st century, we need a multilateral system of open, transparent, non-discriminatory commerce, based on rules mutually agreed-upon and established rules,” he said during the 13th summit of the bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference is slated to take place from November 30 to December 3, in Geneva, Switzerland, when its reforms are likely to be discussed. To Bolsonaro’s judgment, this is the time to establish better rules on industrial and agricultural subsidies.

“I stress that improving rules on subsidies—both industrial and agricultural—is key to correct distortions and prevent ‘predatory competition,’” he said. Also according to Bolsonaro, Brazil has proposed to the WTO an “ambitious, yet feasible, package,” comprising, among others, trade and health care, farming, fishing, and subsidies.

The president also talked about “the urgency” in advancing discussions on the reform of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, “in order to expand its composition in both member categories and to ensure more representation of the developing world.” Starting in January 2022, for the 11th time, Brazil is to take a non-permanent seat in the group. The council is formed by 15 voting countries, with only the US, France, the UK, China, and Russia as permanent members with the right to veto.

The Brics summit was held as a video conference, but no broadcast was transmitted. Bolsonaro’s address was published on his official website. The opening ceremony of the event was broadcast, however. In his short statement, Bolsonaro mentioned bilateral relations with each bloc member.

Pro tempore presidency

The bloc’s pro tempore presidency in 2021 is held by India. This year’s theme is Intra-Brics Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus. In 2022, China is to assume the group’s leading position.

In his speech, Bolsonaro vouched that China will have full support from Brazil. “The results obtained this year ratify the solidity of our intra-Brics dialog,” he said.

The Brazilian president also stressed the need for initiatives that lead to higher production and distribution of vaccines as well as pharmaceutical products and supplies in developing countries, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. “Cooperation between those holding technology and domestic producers, especially in developing nations, is still crucial in fighting the pandemic,” he said.

The New Development Bank, also known as the Brics Development Bank, will have an even more central role in the context of post-pandemic economic recovery, Bolsonaro declared, as well as in cooperation in such fields as science, technology, and innovation. “Our countries have shown capacity to find solutions to the different challenges facing our societies, as the call for research projects dedicated to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear,” he stated.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Denise Griesinger / Nira Foster

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