Furlan criticizes US and equates subsidies to piracy


By Ricardo Leopoldo and Clarissa Oliveira, O Estado de S. Paulo - 30/03/2005

The Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, surprised the audience and transformed an event organized to debate the fight against piracy into yet another act of protest against US subsidies.

He took the opportunity to give a harsh message to US Senator Norm Coleman, chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I would like to highlight that the unfair competition that Brazil suffers is disguised by other mechanisms, which is the varied range of subsidies and barriers imposed on Brazilian products," he commented. And, addressing the parliamentarian, he added: “So, senator, I would like you to take this message to your peers: that unfair competition through subsidies of the most varied in agriculture, in some industrial sectors, including in the aviation area, has the same effect unfair competition created by piracy, fraud and counterfeiting ”. The two participated yesterday in the seminar Brazil against Piracy at the headquarters of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp).

“Countries that, like Brazil, are really competitive in some sectors and create millions of jobs legally are prevented from competing in some markets because of these barriers, because of this framework, financing that governments give to some sectors that makes us have , in the end, difficulties to compete ”, added Furlan.

Asked about Furlan's statements, Coleman said he didn't see the comments necessarily as a comparison but as an attempt to point out a reality. Despite recognizing that subsidies affect competition in trade, the senator insisted that the United States is not the only one to adopt this strategy. “There are several things that affect competition and subsidies are clearly one of them. I hope that at the next World Trade Organization meeting we will have a long discussion to resolve them, ”said the senator. "But the American perspective is that subsidies in the European Union are ten times greater than in the USA."

Upon leaving the event, Furlan detailed to journalists what he had said and reinforced that Brazil "is doing its part" in combating piracy with integrated actions between the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches. “We believe that the senator's visit will generate a report that will show that Brazil is working to combat piracy and is not worthy of any type of sanction. If the USA adopts this path, it will be a mistake and a great disincentive. We are committed to transforming this country into a country of legality ”. And he concluded: “The government is committed to fighting piracy and also having a more solid, fairer country, which can compete more openly with the world economies”

Coleman praised the country's strategy. "Brazil has a commitment and a plan to combat piracy." The US assessment of the fight against piracy gained importance after the American government suggested that it could withdraw Brazilian products from the General System of Preferences (SGP) if the problem is not solved. The SGP provides for the reduction or exemption of import duties on a series of products sold by developing countries to the United States.

The senator was keen to point out that there is still no decision on the matter. According to him, it is a process that is still ongoing and may undergo changes during the discussions. “The issue of piracy is extremely important for the review that is being done at the SGP, but we have not yet concluded this discussion. We have already postponed the deadlines previously and I can say that this deadline will be extended once more ”, said the senator.

According to the Itamaraty, the piracy situation in Brazil is not as critical if data collected in the country are compared with those from other markets. Despite emphasizing that this is a problem that needs to be solved, the substitute head of the Intellectual Property Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Otávio Brandelli, questioned the arguments that the country causes damage to world trade by facing difficulties in controlling counterfeiting. of products. “Our situation, compared to other countries, is not that critical. It is not about saying that Brazil does not have an internal problem with which it needs to deal, but rather putting things in the right perspective. ” According to him, Brazil managed to reduce software piracy from a level of 90% in 1999 to 55% in 2003. Brandelli also said that the country has a film piracy rate of around 30%, while Mexico is in the range 70%.