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NFTC Releases Paper Outlining New Ideas for Advancing Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Global Trade Liberalization
Date: 2/8/2012
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, (202) 822-9491

Washington DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today released, "A 21st Century Work Program for the Multilateral Trading System," a paper outlining new ideas to advance the multilateral trade agenda and modernize global trade rules. The paper includes specific recommendations for moving beyond the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and encouraging the United States and other global economies to pursue an active and results-oriented multilateral trade agenda.

The NFTC, which promotes open markets and U.S. engagement in the world on behalf of its member companies – including Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, United Technologies and Wal-Mart – has been supportive of an ambitious conclusion to the Round for more than a decade, but as talks have stalled, the association has outlined a new approach for a way forward.

"After more than a decade of negotiations that have not led global trade negotiators to an outcome, it's time for fresh ideas to break the diplomatic logjam and find ways to move global trade liberalization forward," said NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin. "The NFTC and our member companies believe deeply that the WTO is a valuable institution and the right place to modernize global trade rules, but we need new approaches around which trade negotiators can coalesce."

The NFTC paper recommends that the WTO pursue the following key initiatives:
  • Conclude a trade facilitation agreement;
  • Negotiate a services agreement;
  • Take steps to discuss and address 21st Century global challenges, including optimizing the digital economy and movement of information across borders, improving global health outcomes and lowering obstacles to the development and adoption of clean technologies; and
  • Consolidate trade liberalization under the WTO framework.
The paper also features a detailed "Analysis of WTO-consistent Approaches to Plurilateral and non-MFN Trade Agreements," which was developed by Ambassador Stuart Harbinson, Senior Advisor to NFTC's WTO Project and Bart De Meester, both of whom are with Sidley Austin's Geneva office. The analysis provides insight on what can be accomplished legally under WTO rules by a coalition of nations "through agreements that would either condition additional commitments on the participation of a ‘critical mass' of countries or which would not confer benefits of new commitments on countries which declined to participate in such agreements."

"We are eager to work with the Administration to help drive an ambitious multilateral trade agenda at the WTO on behalf of the American business community," said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. "We believe this paper helps provide a roadmap for action."
About the NFTC
Advancing Global Commerce for Nearly A Century- The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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