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Relations with the US reach a new low

Zoellick and Rodrigues: a schism has developed over the issue of agricultural trade barriers

September is a popular time for international get-togethers. Near the end of the month there was a small one in New York, organized by the Brazilian/American Chamber of Commerce. It took place while the IMF/World Bank meetings were still under way in Dubai, shortly before the opening of the UN General Assembly, and a week after the collapse of the World Trade Organization talks in Cancún.

Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, had just published an article blaming Brazil for the failure of the WTO negotiations, and most of the delegates at the Sheraton Hotel in New York feared that relations between Brazil and the US - the co-chairs of the talks on a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) - had reached a low point.

US assistant secretary of commerce William Lash couldn't make the conference, so he sent Eric Stewart, his deputy. Stewart was extremely upbeat, characterizing the US-Brazil relationship as "very, very positive", and talking about a possible future development which, he said, "could double the trade with the US".

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