While in Geneva, the group met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy and other key WTO officials, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Francis Gurry, and non-governmental organizations. The delegation also met with heads of delegations, senior officials, and key WTO negotiating chairs, including Ambassadors Mario Matus, Chair of the General Council; Luzius Wasecha, Chair of Negotiating Group on Market Access; David Walker, Chair of the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture; Guillermo Valles, Chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules; Eduardo Ernesto Sperisen-Yurt, Chair of Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation; and Manuel A.J. Teehankee, Chair of the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Environment.
“We are here to underline the commitment of the American business community to a successful conclusion of global trade talks,” said NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin, who represented NFTC on the trip. “At the end of the day,” he continued, “we hope the renewed momentum and focus on substance we observed will lead to greater clarity and ambition across the negotiations.”
In addition to discussing the Doha Round, the delegation spoke with senior officials and NGOs about other key trade issues, such as monitoring of new trade measures, intellectual property rights protection, and trade-related climate policies.
“The WTO has demonstrated value during the global economic crisis, monitoring the rise in new trade-restrictive measures and reinforcing the rules of the trading system,” said Scott Miller, Director, Global Trade Policy, Procter & Gamble, and Chair of NFTC’s WTO Project. “At the same time, there is a real need to conclude the Doha Round, not only for what economies can gain from improved terms of trade, but also to allow the WTO to focus on emerging issues such as climate change and the rise of complex, IT-enabled supply networks.”
On the issue of climate change, the NFTC delegation discussed concerns over the WTO-compatibility of border adjustment measures and free allowances in domestic climate legislation, the role of Geneva-based institutions in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, and the importance of early progress on an agreement to lower tariffs and other trade barriers on environmentally-friendly goods and services.
“Reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers on environmentally friendly goods and services is not just trade for trade’s sake. Lowering green trade barriers would reduce the costs of these goods and services worldwide, help create clean energy jobs, and demonstrate economic and environmental leadership,” said Thaddeus Burns, Senior Counsel for Trade and IP for General Electric and a participant on the NFTC delegation.
This is the NFTC’s first business delegation to Geneva in over a year, designed to gain firsthand knowledge of progress being made on the ground prior to the WTO Regular Ministerial scheduled to begin November 30. The delegation included representatives from a number of NFTC member companies, including General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Tyco International and Wal-Mart Stores.
“The meetings that will occur over the next month, including the WTO Ministerial meeting scheduled for the end of November, will help determine the path of the WTO and the Doha Round for the foreseeable future,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “Given the important issues at hand, the U.S. negotiating team deserves to be at full strength, and the U.S. Senate ought to move quickly to confirm President Obama’s appointees for Deputy United States Trade Representative as well as other key administration officials responsible for international economic policymaking and negotiations.”