Brazilian president hails G20 accord as historic


London : Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hailed as historic the accord that emerged here Thursday from the G20 economic summit.

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The importance of the gathering lay in the fact that rich countries and developing nations sat at the same table on equal terms with a shared objective, the Brazilian president told a post-summit press conference in London.

“It’s the first meeting where weren’t treated as if we didn’t understand anything,” Lula said, attributing the change to the fact that “no one is sure” what to do about the current global economic crisis.

He said the G20 leaders agreed on the need to restore capital flows and to create a regulatory environment that encourages productive investment rather than speculation.

The Brazilian leader touted the summit’s decision to immediately publish a list of tax havens that fail to comply with standards of transparency established by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Lula also expressed satisfaction with the G20’s instruction to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to expose countries that violate WTO rules by resorting to protectionist measures amid the downturn.

He described that effort as a promising first step toward dismantling European and US protectionism in the realm of agricultural trade.

“Protectionism is like a drug,” the Brazilian said. “You have moments of bliss and then you fall into a deep depression, where you don’t know what will happen.”

Lula applauded the decision to boost by up to $1 billion the reserves of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to enable them to help the poorest countries, and he said Brazil was in a position to contribute towards that effort, though he declined to mention a figure.

“I would like to go down in history as the president who gave some reais (Brazil’s currency) to the IMF,” he quipped.

Asked about US President Barack Obama’s comment that Lula is the world’s most popular politician, the Brazilian head of state dismissed the remark as “a joke, a friendly gesture”.

And in regard to the perception that Brazil has become the voice of the developing world, Lula said bluntly: “No one elected me leader of anything.”

“When I was in the metalworkers union I was the leader because the metalworkers elected me leader, and in Brazil I am the leader because the people elected me to be president of the republic.” But in Latin America or the wider world, Lula said he is simply a “comrade”.