On the domestic front the adoption by Brazil of increasingly assertive and

On the domestic front the adoption by brazil of

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On the domestic front, the adoption by Brazil of increasingly assertive and autonomous positions in agricultural trade negotiations has been backed, in structural terms, by the impressive modernization Brazilian agribusiness underwent during the 1990s. By the late 1980s, agricultural exports concentrated on primary goods — coffee, cocoa and cotton, among others — and were strongly regulated by state-owned sectoral bodies. As a consequence of this and until the beginning of the 1990s, the private sector did not show a great deal of interest in trade negotiations, and the participation of agribusiness representatives in the Uruguay Round was very timid. During the negotiations to launch the sub-regional integration process, the private sector adopted an essentially defensive stance, focused on the alleged risks of competition in the domestic market arising from the elimination of tariffs among Mercosur member countries. From 1995 onwards, driven by large investments, a strong expansion of agribusiness productivity took place in Brazil. This process speeded up at the end of the decade, and sector representatives began to push the government to adopt more aggressive negotiating positions in agriculture, in the FTAA and EU- Mercosur trade talks. In the WTO, the new position taken by the private sector was crucial for the government’s decision to ask for the setting up of agricultural-products-related dispute settlement panels in their actions against the United States and the European Union (EU). In early 2003, summing up these evolutions in attitudes, the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture called for the adoption of an ‘autonomous position’ in the agricultural negotiations, a position which also reflected — as shown below — some disappointment towards the recent performance of the Cairns Group. At that time, the main sectoral Brazilian agribusiness associations created a research institute geared to providing technical support to the ongoing agricultural negotiations at the WTO as well as at the preferential fora. As the so-called ‘Harbinson paper’ was made public in the WTO talks, during the first half of 2003 a working group, created as a joint initiative by the ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, undertook a cautious and detailed analysis of the paper, criticizing it and formulating technically sound proposals on each of the points it raised. Later on, the working group expanded to integrate other ministries, governmental agencies and private representatives related to the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. A similar position was adopted once the joint EU-US document on agriculture was made public, in the weeks preceding the Cancún Ministerial Conference: ‘the day after the document was issued, the working technical group began to work on this new proposal, analyzing and assessing each paragraph, deconstructing it’, according to a participant of the group from the private sector.
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