Enactment will ‘harm U.S. credibility and global leadership in the Doha Agenda,’ says Reinsch
Washington DC – The National Foreign Trade Council today strongly warned against Senate passage of the farm bill and controversial TPA amendments that would be counterproductive to vital U.S. trade interests. With the recent launch of the Doha Agenda of multilateral trade negotiations, such legislation will undermine the ability of the United States to exert strong trade leadership in support of more open markets, according to the NFTC.
“Enactment of the farm bill will harm U.S. credibility and global trade leadership, especially in the Doha Agenda of WTO trade negotiations,” warned Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council. “The United States is sending the wrong message at the wrong time.”
Agricultural export subsidies were one of the most contentious issues when WTO ministers met in Doha, Qatar in November, 2001. In order to gain a consensus from agricultural-exporting countries, trade ministers agreed that the talks on agriculture would aim to substantially improve market access, eliminate export subsidies and substantially reduce trade-distorting domestic support.
“We have a lot at stake in the Doha Agenda, and U.S. negotiators must be fully armed and able to negotiate what is in our best national economic interest. Passage of the farm bill will give ammunition to our foreign competitors to justify their own protectionist measures, including bloated subsidies programs. It will be counterproductive to needed trade liberalization and reform, which will only hurt our farmers in the long run,” said Reinsch. “Our farmers suffer enough from limited access to the markets overseas. The farm bill in its current form will make the job of opening those markets up to U.S. farmers even tougher.”
In addition to concerns over the farm bill, the NFTC is strongly opposed to controversial amendments to the pending Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in the Senate, such as the Dayton-Craig amendment which would preclude TPA from applying to trade law provisions in trade agreements. The Dayton-Craig amendment would effectively torpedo the Doha Agenda, according to Reinsch.
The U.S. has a strong interest in a discussion of WTO “rules,” which are a part of the Doha Agenda work program. On antidumping alone, U.S. exporters increasingly face arbitrary action by developing countries that are using antidumping laws to keep U.S. exports out of their markets. On subsidies rules, the U.S. has major issues to discuss, including how to eliminate the unfair distinction in current WTO rules between direct and indirect taxes.
“The NFTC just returned from a WTO symposium on the Doha Agenda. Both the farm bill and the recent decision to provide import relief for the U.S. steel industry are viewed by many U.S. trading partners — particularly developing countries — as the U.S. saying one thing and doing another,” said Reinsch. “The Doha Agenda offers enormous opportunity for the U.S. to eliminate major barriers to U.S. trade, but it will be difficult to achieve that goal unless we reinforce our free trade rhetoric with real action by keeping our own markets open. ”