Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today released the following statement regarding the introduction of new agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) texts in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations:
“The National Foreign Trade Council remains hopeful that member countries of the WTO will make the hard choices necessary to substantially complete the Doha Development Round this year,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “We welcome the issuance of the new negotiating texts on agriculture and NAMA as an important next step in the process.”
“Though more time is needed to review the texts in detail, real progress seems to be reflected in the text on agriculture – a product of intense senior level negotiations over the past several months. The same cannot be said of the NAMA text, which remains heavily bracketed,” said NFTC Senior Vice President Catherine Bennett. “While the NFTC supports the concept of linking proposed coefficients with the degree of flexibility to continue to protect certain tariff lines, it remains concerned that the level of ambition in the NAMA negotiations will fall short of expectations. There also seems to have been little progress on non-tariff barriers and sectoral negotiations, which are very important to American businesses and could help them accept less ambitious tariff cuts.”
Bennett continued, “While the stage has been set for a breakthrough on agriculture, NAMA seems to be a text in search of a negotiation. The time for serious senior level negotiations on NAMA, which is a prerequisite for moving to the horizontal negotiating process, is long overdue. The third pillar of this Round – services – must also not be forgotten. Without a strong services outcome, it will be difficult for the American business community or the Congress to support the deal.”
“There are only 226 days left in 2008. Let’s hope that negotiators in Geneva make good use of them. WTO Members, including the advanced developing economies, need to step up to the plate and show leadership commensurate with their stake in the global trading system,” Reinsch concluded.