By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – It is possible to significantly increase the market for Brazilian products abroad if the country is able to break down trade barriers, says a Brazilian diplomat working with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and this could help Brazil come out of its economic crisis faster.
“We have competitive products, produced without subsidies, they should have unimpeded access in key markets,” said Celso de Tarso Pereira on Thursday during the fourth edition of the Agriculture Forum of South America, held in Curitiba.
The diplomat says the main challenge for exporters are enormous restrictions, quotas and tariffs that prevent Brazilian goods from being competitive abroad. According to Pereira Brazil is a leader in sugar and chicken exports but is only able to sell to the European Union through a tariff quota system.
What exceeds the quota is taxed with higher import tariffs. “The challenge is to define a strategy to dismantle these barriers,” concludes the official.
In addition to quotas and higher tariffs there are often restrictions by foreign buyers on Brazilian agricultural products, under the pretext that they do not follow international health standards. “Barriers are imposed without proper scientific basis, only with a protectionist intent,” noted Pereira.
To resolve the problem, the diplomat suggests first direct negotiations with potential importers, ‘to convince them that Brazilian products meet international health standards’. If that is unsuccessful, Pereira says, Brazil may resort to more drastic actions, such as litigation actions at the WTO against barriers imposed without scientific basis.
The Brazilian government also believes that by removing barriers and increasing agribusiness exports, Brazil could come out of its economic crisis more quickly. According to Odilson Ribeiro e Silva, International Relations Secretary, at the Ministry of Agriculture, the government’s goal is to increase the Brazilian agribusiness participation in world trade from the current 6.9 percent to ten percent.