USTR: Despite Collapse of WTO Talks, Progress Still Made

July 28, 2008 07:00 PM

Pro Farmer Editors


U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says despite the collapse of WTO trade talks today, good progress was still made during the past week.

“There should be no question, we made important progress," says Schwab. "Even today, 5 of the 7 countries in the leadership group were prepared to accept the Friday proposal by Director General Lamy. We gained insights into what members are prepared to offer on services at the signaling conference this weekend, greater clarity on what a modalities package might look like, and saw a constructive attitude in attempting to solve many other issues that have been preventing progress in the negotiations."

Schwab says to ensure that the advances made this week are not lost, the United States will continue to stand by our current offers, "but we maintain that they are still contingent on others coming forward with ambitious offers that will create new market access. So far, that ambition is not evident," she adds. “Regrettably, our negotiations deadlocked on the scope of a safeguard mechanism to remedy surges in imported agricultural products."

“Any safeguard mechanism must distinguish between the legitimate need to address exceptional situations involving sudden and extreme import surges and a mechanism that can be abused," she adds. “In the face of a global food price crisis, we simply could not agree to a result that would raise more barriers to world food trade."

Schwab says certain members sought increased flexibilities that would have allowed them to apply tariffs that, in some cases, would exceed their current WTO bindings. "This would have moved the global trading system backwards – exactly contrary to the purposes of a negotiation intended to expand trade and economic growth," she adds. “Throughout these negotiations, the United States has been strongly committed and willing to make the tough choices necessary to achieve an ambitious breakthrough. Since the launch of the Round, we have worked tirelessly, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, spending countless hours negotiating in good faith, all to sustain the Round and bring together a development outcome that would open new markets and create new trade flows."


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