A new alliance of some of the world's poorest countries forged during the last week's global trade talks has changed the entire dynamics of world politics, the foreign minister of Brazil told The Independent yesterday.
In an exclusive interview, Celso Amorim said the formation of the Group of 21 nations (G21) had "reshuffled the cards" by creating a powerful counterweight to Washington and Brussels. The creation of the G21 has been one of the most significant developments of the World Trade Organisation meetings that have dominated the Mexican beach resort of Cancun since Wednesday.
Thanks to tough negotiating by the G21, analysts believe that the world's two most powerful economic blocs have been prevented from riding roughshod over the 100-plus countries that make up the developing world.
It has also enhanced the reputation of Brazil - the leading voice in the G21 and the country with the largest democratic support for any left-wing government in the world - and the administration led by the uneducated steelworker Silva da Lula. "We have gained the political initiative," said Mr Amorim on the fringes of the conference.
Its key move was to launch its own proposals for a trade agreement, in effect ambushing attempts by the US and EU to push through a joint plan that would have preserved much of the £220bn that the industrialised farmers hand out to their farmers very year. "We created a new dynamic in the agricultural negotiations that would otherwise have got bogged down," Mr Amorim said.
The EU and US accused the group of being a "marriage of convenience" that would not last the course. The group includes India, China, Argentina and South Africa.
Mr Amorim said it was vital that southern countries had managed to unite in what other ministers described as a "coup of genius". "It suddenly reshuffled the cards" Mr Amorim said. "To keep the unity of the G21 is crucial because then we have a big chance of having a voice on agricultural and other issues".