*Por Renata Amaral
Trade Policy Review 2017
The seventh review of the trade policies and practices of Brazil takes place today and Wednesday at the World Trade Organization.
The reviews take place in the Trade Policy Review Body which is actually the WTO General Council — comprising the WTO’s full membership — operating under special rules and procedures. The reviews are therefore essentially peer-group assessments, although much of the factual leg-work is done by the WTO Secretariat.
As mentioned in the Executive Summary of the Secretariat, since its previous Trade Policy Review in 2013, “Brazil’s largely domestic demand-driven economy slowed down and entered a severe recession in 2015-16, triggered by deteriorating terms of trade and exacerbated by a bout of political uncertainty. Annual GDP growth dropped from 3% in 2013 to 0.9% in 2014 and then turned negative in 2015 and 2016 with consumption and gross fixed capital formation following a similar trend. The recession, one of the most severe in Brazil’s history, has been accompanied by a steep rise in inflation (8.7% in 2016) and unemployment (11.3% in 2016) as well as fiscal discipline challenges”.
Among the issues highlighted by the other 163 WTO Members are the complexity of the Brazilian tax system, the lack of transparency in fiscal incentive programs, the recurrent use of trade defense instruments to curb imports, the delay in releasing patents and the delay in liberalizing the market.
It was also noted by the Executive Summary that Brazil remains committed to, and an active participant in, the multilateral trading system. From 2013 until 2016, Brazil improved its WTO commitments by ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and depositing its instrument of acceptance of the Fifth Protocol on Financial Services. During the same review period, Brazil was directly involved in seven WTO disputes, five as a complainant and two as a respondent.
While Brazil continues to work on strengthening regional economic integration through RTAs negotiated within the framework of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), it has also placed emphasis on RTAs negotiated with trading partners outside the region.
Tomorrow in Geneva Brazil will try to win the chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets standards to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in trade.
The candidate is Guilherme Costa, from from the Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil, and he disputes with a representative of Mali. It is the first time that Brazil tries to occupy this position, considered strategic by the Ministry of Agriculture.