U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater
, leading a trade mission in support of President Clinton's commitment to a well-integrated Western Hemisphere transportation system, joined with Brazilian Transport Minister Eliseu Lemos Padilha in signing a major three-year maritime agreement ensuring each country's shipping lines will be treated equally when carrying cargo from the other country.
"On behalf of President Clinton and Vice-President Gore, we are pleased we've reached an agreement that promotes the principle of reciprocity in the shipping relations between the U.S. and Brazil," Secretary Slater said. "The peoples of our respective countries can look forward to a strong bilateral maritime partnership with Brazil, for which this agreement is a foundation."
The agreement ensures each country's national-flag shipping lines equal access to commercial cargoes and to cargoes whose shipment is controlled by the other country's government, except defense cargoes and agricultural assistance cargoes.
The bilateral agreement calls for liberalization of maritime trade and provides that each nation will not discriminate against the other's carriers with respect to maritime-related services and facilities, including shipping taxes.
Secretary Slater commended U.S. Maritime Administrator Clyde J. Hart Jr., who attended the signing ceremony, for his leadership of the U.S. team which negotiated the agreement. Hart began talks in February with his Brazilian counterpart, aimed at resolving a serious dispute over previous discriminatory international ocean shipping practices by Brazil. During those talks, Brazil agreed
to eliminate a tax preference favoring shipments on certain Brazilian vessels.
The new agreement will restore unfettered access for U.S.-flag carriers to government-controlled cargoes whose shipments are arranged by the Brazilian government, which historically have been broad in scope in Brazil. In recent years, the Brazilian government has acted to reduce the share of cargoes subject to preference, making more available to open competition.