Byline: Kristi Ellis

WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is in Brazil through Thursday trying to gain support from a variety of factions in the country for the Free Trade Area of the Americas pact, which would join 34 nations into the world’s largest common market.
The FTAA would go into effect by 2005. Brazilians have been ambivalent about the pact and its timetable, and President Bush’s recent decision to slap punitive tariffs on steel imports to the U.S. could also have a negative impact on FTAA negotiations.
In addition to meetings with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Foreign Minister Celso Lafer, Zoellick will meet with business leaders today.
One of the stops will be a visit to Wal-Mart’s International Global Sourcing Summit in Sao Paulo, which is devoted to showcasing how foreign investment can stimulate local economic activity. Wal-Mart developed the showcase in conjunction with Brazil’s Chamber of Exterior Commerce, Agency for the Promotion of Exports and the Brazilian Association of Trading Companies. Wal-Mart operates 21 stores in Brazil.
“The first [summit] will create opportunities to improve the supply chain and to add quality and value to the products sold in 10 countries where we operate,” Vicente Trius, Wal-Mart Brazil’s president, said in a statement.
The two-day show, which ends today, featured 70 Brazilian manufacturers and designers, including apparel and accessories, meeting with some 60 Wal-Mart buyers from Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., according to a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
She said Wal-Mart also has planned a global sourcing summit in Mexico City with Mexican suppliers in May, as well as one in China at the end of the year.

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