WTO Chief Says Farm Bill Sends Wrong Signal to Trade Negotiators
While efforts to expand U.S. export market access for dairy and other agricultural products remain stalled under current world trade negotiations, the new Farm Bill is sending the wrong signal to negotiators, according to the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Director-General Pascal Lamy expressed his concern last week to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and other U.S. lawmakers at a meeting in Brussels.
The Farm Bill, Lamy told the congressmen, has been mentioned by several countries as an indication that the United States is not serious about reducing farm subsidies that are considered trade distorting by WTO rules. The organization places strict overall limits on these programs just as it limits farm subsidies and tariffs in other countries.
The Milk Income Loss Contract program, the Dairy Price Support Program and sugar subsidies, all maintained in the new Farm Bill, make up the majority of U.S. trade-distorting subsidies reported in previous years to the WTO in its amber box provision. The amber box contains domestic farm subsidies that WTO member countries have agreed to reduce but not eliminate.
"With today's high global food prices, the new Farm Bill was a missed opportunity for the U.S. to reform dairy and sugar subsidies and to reinforce U.S. commitment to a successful outcome in world trade negotiations," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president."
In a related move, IDFA recently signed a joint letter with other food companies and trade associations to the U.S. Trade Representative reiterating the importance of expanding global market access. The United States should lead by example, the letter states, adding that all countries should refrain from expanding their lists of protected products and that they should lower, not increase or add, new tariff rate quotas. To read the letter, click here.
IDFA is deeply committed to improving international trade opportunities for dairy foods through bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, including the WTO Doha Round negotiations. The Doha negotiations, now in their seventh year, are expected to resume with a special meeting sometime this summer.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-3553.