Brazil is deeply concerned about what will be the next US government movements on trade policy.
In Brasilia some officials think that the Trump administration may soon begin to step away from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) multilateral trade system, that in the last 20 years has been the venue for resolving trade disputes between its member countries, preventing them to escalate into trade wars.
Officials and diplomats have in mind that when campaigning, Donald Trump showed a sceptical view on multilateral organizations and treaties, the same the US government helped to build and defend for more than half a century. In his view this international bureaucracy is biased against US interests. Specifically about WTO, Trump during the campaign qualified it as a “disaster”.
The new US trade team is remarkably protectionist. Robert Lighthizer (very well know by Brazilians, since he once was hired to protect Brazil’s trade interests in the US and who is expected soon to be confirmed by the Senate as the new US Trade Representative) has repeatedly called for protectionism and years ago suggested the US to have a more aggresive approach to the multilateral trade system.
It is not clear what path Brazil will follow in this matter to protect the country’s trade interests. The President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, has already said that he wants to meet with Trump. But up to now not a word about how President Temer will act.
In the while, WTO is doing its preparatory job for its next global meeting, in December, in Buenos Aires. Thursday (23) WTO Secretary General Roberto Azevedo said: “Members’ willingness to be flexible, open-minded and pragmatic will be essential. Continued engagement from capitals will also be key. This should be happening now. And, finally, I would urge members to try to build the needs of others into their proposals — particularly the needs of the least-developed countries.”