Warns of Paralysis, Less U.S. Political Support Next Year Absent Real Progress in 2004
— Statement from Mary Irace, NFTC Vice President for Trade and Export Finance —
Washington DC – Today, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and its members called on WTO Members to exert the political will and leadership necessary to reach agreement on a sensible and meaningful framework package at next week’s General Council meeting. NFTC Vice President Mary Irace issued the following statement:
“The WTO General Council meeting next week is one of the most important meetings since the Doha Development Agenda was launched. Agreement on a solid July framework package – a much more modest outcome than the Cancun ministerial goal of reaching WTO agreement on modalities – is essential to achieving progress this year.
“Lack of progress next week will likely paralyze the negotiations well into next year, raise growing doubts about whether the WTO can meet the challenges of the 21st century, and create a more difficult political debate in the United States over next year’s extension of “trade promotion” (TPA) and congressional five-year review of the WTO. Failure to conclude a sensible framework package in July after three years of negotiation, combined with economic isolationist and special interest opposition to the WTO, could create a perfect storm next year in the U.S. Congress.
“The NFTC commends Ambassador Zoellick for his steadfast commitment to ensuring 2004 is not a lost year for the Doha Agenda, and is pleased that strong efforts are being made by other countries to reach consensus on agriculture and non-agriculture market access (NAMA) in the lead up to the GC meeting. We are, however, very troubled by recent calls from Brazil and the G-90 to reopen the Derbez text on NAMA. Many WTO members, including the United States, have concerns about certain provisions in the Derbez text on NAMA, but reopening it will potentially lead to unraveling the entire text. The Derbez text has plenty of built-in flexibility for developing countries — perhaps too much from the U.S. business perspective. The U.S. business community opposes opening it up and weakening it further. The NFTC proposed in 2001 that this WTO negotiation should have the objective of eliminating all duties on trade in industrial products, as well as a major assault on non-tariff measures. We still believe an ambitious outcome in this area is central to strengthening the multilateral trading system.
“In late April, more than 40 international business and agricultural groups from developed and developing countries issued a petition to national leaders calling for significant progress this year to boost the WTO’s credibility, particularly by agreeing to a meaningful July framework package. It also called for an ambitious outcome to the talks across the board.
“The world needs a strong and vibrant multilateral trading system, but the WTO seems in danger of losing its way. The NFTC sees three fundamental challenges before WTO members. First, is overcoming entrenched agricultural protectionist interests in developed countries to achieve deep liberalization of agricultural markets, especially in sectors such as sugar and dairy. The second challenge is for middle income countries to demonstrate their clear commitment to opening up their own markets for goods, services and agriculture in a meaningful manner. The third challenge involves lesser developed countries and their willingness to support the basic purpose and obligations of the WTO, which at their heart are about promoting growth and development through open and rules-based trade. To overcome these challenges, political will and leadership has to come from all quarters.”
www.nftc.org) 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 300 member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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