House Ag Chairman Urges U.S. Doha Negotiators to Hold Fast
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) last week urged U.S. trade negotiators to refuse any further concessions while participating in the latest World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development talks held this past weekend in Geneva. Rep. Goodlatte made his remarks during a joint press conference last Tuesday with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, who were scheduled to attend the WTO meeting.
Even though the United States has already offered an ambitious agricultural proposal, Goodlatte said, the country is now being asked to give more and receive less. "This is not an option. There is absolutely no support in Congress for further concessions on our part, including further concessions on market access and domestic supports," he explained.
IDFA strongly supports the U.S. WTO proposal, which recommends cutting trade-distorting domestic farm subsidies by 60%, substantially reducing tariffs and eliminating export subsidies.
"We want a serious expansion of real market access," Goodlatte said. "Our producers have been shut out of foreign markets for far too long. To achieve that, the U.S. offered significant real curbs on our domestic support for producers. No other country or combination of countries have put forward offers that measure up to our proposal. Now it is time for the rest of the world to step up to the challenge."
The press conference, which also included a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives, was timed to precede the start of the latest talks, which began June 27 and ran through July 2.
Reports came in over the weekend that the trade talks in Geneva had broken down. But Ambassador Schwab remained hopeful, saying, "We remain fully committed to an ambitious, robust round that opens new markets for the world's farmers, manufacturers and service providers."
Timing and legislative support are critical. A Doha agreement would need to be approved by Congress, and July 1, 2007, marks the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority, which authorizes the president to send free-trade legislation to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Most trade experts believe that if a deal cannot be completed in the next few months, there will not be time to complete an overall agreement and gain approval in the United States.
Results from this latest meeting will be included in the July 10 edition of News Update. For more information on the WTO negotiations, click here, or contact Helen Medina, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3507.
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Posted July 3, 2006