Bolsonaro asks WTO director for help to ensure access to fertilizer – 04/18/2022

President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday, 18, asked for help from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure some kind of “safe behavior” for the flow of fertilizers imported from countries suffering economic and financial sanctions due to the war in Ukraine. .

The targets of the restrictive measures are Russia and Belarus, two of the main exporters of inputs to Brazilian agribusiness. Since the start of the war, sparked by Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, Bolsonaro’s government has launched a national fertilizer plan and sought alternative suppliers to avoid impacts on rural food production and inflation.

WTO diplomatic assistance discussed in Brasilia, during Bolsonaro’s private audience with the WTO director general, Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He had the support of Brazil to reach the position.

After meeting Bolsonaro at the Planalto Palace, he signaled his support, but said he needed to put Brazil’s proposals for consideration by other WTO members – and not just the United States.

“We need to have a dialogue with the members to see how the future goes. Let’s see what kind of support this idea will receive,” said the Director General. “The question is to overcome the limitations caused by the war so that food and fertilizer have circulation, otherwise we will not be short and hungry again.”

He said the world was going through a “time of stress” in food security, due to the war in Ukraine, and he looked forward to working with Brazilian leadership to improve the situation on a global scale. The Director stated that prices have increased and producing countries should seek to increase supply to international markets.

“We are facing a formidable challenge. The president and ministers asked us to put more emphasis on the fertilizer issue, discuss more broadly, even before the ministerial meeting, to find a formula to make fertilizer access feasible from conflict areas. . , Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. We will look into this matter and see what can be done, because we need Brazil to produce. If Brazil doesn’t produce, if Ukraine doesn’t produce, next year we will have more problems with food prices. Brazil’s role is very important,” said the WTO representative.

Ngozi refused to take a stand on the decisions of individual countries and economic blocs, such as the European Union, to impose sanctions on Russia, Belarus and their rulers.

Foreign Minister Carlos França said Bolsonaro’s proposal stemmed from a conversation in which Ngozi made an “application” for Brazil to consider exporting its food supplies. This will be a way for the country to help address the world’s shortages. The answer, however, is that Brazil has all of its production under contract.

“We have our production fully engaged in agreements with importers around the world. The President reiterated to Dr Ngozi that even during the most difficult hours of the pandemic, our agro maintains international commitments and, therefore, exports of grains, poultry, meat The contracts are guarded and respected, this clearly has value,” said the Chancellor. “So that we can maintain and expand this production, we need access to inputs.”

The Chancellor mentioned the Brazilian government’s efforts to ensure the supply of fertilizers, such as urea and potassium, among others, together with diplomats from the United States, Nigeria, Morocco, Canada, and Iran.

“We are looking for a surplus. We asked for Dr. Ngozi so that he can consider the idea of ​​​​leading an initiative that allows free transit, this input flow, I refer, of course, to fertilizers, but also seeds. Why sanctions and embargoes? applied to Russia and the conflict in Ukraine itself did not prevent this input-free transit, so we have logistics that do not prevent the timely arrival of these inputs in Brazil.”

Although this issue is not within the scope of the WTO, the chancellor understands that the director general of the WTO, with extensive political experience abroad and contacts in Washington, can help to “raise awareness” of Western powers.

During their visit to Brasilia, officials Ngozi and Itamaraty also discussed WTO reforms and dispute resolution mechanisms, which are widely used by Brazil. Since the administration of former President Donald Trump, the United States has blocked the full functioning of the mechanism, by prohibiting the appointment of representatives to appeals bodies. Thus, the calls from these countries were in vain.

Ngozi said it was impossible to improve dispute resolution mechanisms and resolve appeals body issues at the next WTO conference, but he hoped to reach an agreement to put the reform process on track, which he wants to complete by the end of the year. He acknowledged the validity of the US complaint and the failure of current mechanisms.

Clara Burton

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