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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 18:38 GMT
Brazil aide decries Americas trade plan
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Lula wants concessions from the US
The US plan to create a free-trade area in the Americas by 2005 is unworkable and should be postponed, a top aide to Brazil's president-elect has said.

"We must start negotiations anew. We need a new timetable," said Guido Mantega, the economic adviser to president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In an interview with news agency Associated Press, Mr Mantega said that Washington's refusal to lower trade barriers was hindering plans to create the 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas.

"The United States is not reducing its protectionism, especially regarding agriculture products.

"That makes the deadline unworkable," he said, during a break at a business seminar at the American Chamber of Commerce.

Aiming for low inflation

Lula - as he is known in Brazil - won a landslide victory in October and will take office on 1 January.

He has said that Brazil will not simply throw open its borders, and its market of 175 million people, without concessions from the US.

"Brazil can't give without getting something back," Mr Mantega said.

"The timetable must be reviewed."

Mr Mantega reaffirmed Lula's pledge to honour all international agreements and to maintain fiscal austerity.

He said a budget surplus and low inflation were priorities "to recover the credibility Brazil has lost on the international market and resume receiving credits".

Interest rates stay high

Investments and credit dried up this year as Lula's popularity rose.

Markets feared that the former union boss could lead Brazil to an Argentina-style default on its foreign debt.

Mr Mantega said he was "moderately optimistic" about Brazil's economy and predicted growth of between 2.5-3.3% next year, with a trade surplus of $15bn (9.5bn).

He also forecast inflation of 11-12% in 2003, with interest rates remaining at about 17.5%.


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11 Nov 02 | Business
05 Nov 02 | Business
01 Nov 02 | Business
29 Oct 02 | Americas
28 Oct 02 | Business
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