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IDFA Applauds U.S. Offer to Cut Domestic Subsidies in WTO Doha Round

Oct 10, 2005

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Marci Cleary (202) 737-4332

IDFA Applauds U.S. Offer to Cut Domestic Subsidies in WTO Doha Round

(Washington, D.C. — October 10, 2005) The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) commended U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Portman's offer today to cut trade-distorting domestic farm subsidies by 60%, substantially reduce tariffs and eliminate export subsidies — all within a five-year period — in a proposal designed to reignite the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations.

Earlier today in Zurich, Switzerland, Portman outlined his offer to trade and agriculture ministers from WTO member nations during a meeting that was called by the United States to discuss how to overcome problems that have stalled the Doha talks on agriculture. Farm subsidies are widely considered to be a major hurdle in obtaining a Doha Round agreement.

"USTR's aggressive proposal is exactly what is needed to get the crucial WTO negotiations back on track." said IDFA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Clay Hough. "This should prompt real movement during December's Hong Kong WTO Ministerial. The Doha Round has the potential to have a deep impact on liberalizing agricultural trade, and we hope that other countries will reciprocate with meaningful market access commitments to keep the talks moving ahead."

In fact, the U.S. proposal is contingent upon bold reforms from all WTO member countries. The United States is willing to slash its subsidies, but needs other nations to do the same. In particular, the United States wants the European Union and Japan to cut their farm payments by 80% since they subsidize more than the United States.

USTR's proposal calls for reforms in two five-year stages. In the first five years, there would be substantial reductions of trade-distorting support measures and tariffs, along with the elimination of export subsidies. Specifically on market access, the United States is offering to cut tariffs by up to 90% and to limit remaining tariffs at 75%. The second stage would deliver the elimination of remaining trade-distorting policies in agriculture.

A long-standing proponent of liberalizing global trade, 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 association will continue to support Ambassador Portman and other federal officials in their efforts to move the WTO agricultural negotiations forward.

# # #

IDFA is the Washington, DC based organization representing the nation's dairy processing and manufacturing industries and their suppliers. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), National Cheese Institute (NCI) and International Ice Cream Association (IICA). Its 500 plus members range from large multinational corporations to single plant operations, and represent more than 85% of the total volume of milk, cultured products, cheese, and ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States — an estimated $90 billion a year industry. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org

 
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