National Foreign Trade Council Calls for Win-Win Strategy for Eliminating Tariffs
Washington DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) applauds the New Zealand government for tabling a bold proposal on industrial tariffs at yesterday’s meeting of the WTO Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access.
“The NFTC welcomes the New Zealand proposal calling for the progressive elimination of industrial tariffs among all WTO members, with the exception of least developed countries,” said Mary Irace, NFTC Vice President for Trade and Export Finance. “While there are differences between New Zealand’s proposal and the NFTC’s tariff-elimination proposal issued earlier this year, it is strategic in its vision, and it demonstrates the bold leadership that is essential to a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda.”
“During an NFTC delegation visit to Geneva last week, the number one message to WTO member delegations was to set ambitious negotiating objectives in all key areas of the negotiation,” Irace added.
“The multilateral elimination of industrial tariffs, combined with meaningful commitments on non-tariff barriers, would ensure the multilateral trading system remains relevant in this era of proliferating bilateral and regional free trade agreements,” according to Irace. “With half of world trade already duty free and growing regionalism, the WTO cannot afford to wait to complete the unfinished business begun by the GATT in 1947 on industrial tariffs,” she said.
The prospect of eliminating tariffs on industrial goods “shows NFTC member companies that the WTO negotiations hold the potential to deliver an improved international environment for trade and investment,” Irace noted.
“With the U.S. and global economy still struggling for renewed growth, the New Zealand proposal would be a huge shot in the arm for the global economy,” Irace said. “The fact that the volume of world merchandise trade in 2001 declined for the first time since 1982 and world merchandise output declined for the first time since 1991 underscores the critical significance and positive impact of eliminating industrial tariffs globally.”
Developing countries stand to gain the most from this proposal through greater market access to both developed and developing countries, and by ensuring developing countries are not left behind by growing regionalism. Just as important are the implications of such a proposal on other key areas of the negotiation, Irace noted.
“A bold approach on tariffs will create pressure for a similar ambitious approach on agriculture, which is the number one objective for much of the developing world,” Irace said. “WTO members need to set the bar high in these negotiations to overcome the obstacles to continue down the road to success.”
Earlier this year, the NFTC urged WTO members to embrace a bold global zero approach on industrial tariffs in its paper entitled Vision 2005: Free Trade and Beyond, Recommendations for the Doha Development Agenda. The paper also lays out its recommendations in other key areas of the Doha Agenda, including agriculture, services, trade facilitation and rules.