Washington DC – In a statement today by the President of the National Foreign Trade Council, Bill Reinsch, the NFTC strongly endorsed the U.S. proposal for the comprehensive elimination of tariffs on non-agricultural goods by all WTO members by 2015.
“This is an historic proposal that is both visionary and realistic, and we applaud the Bush Administration for its leadership. It will energize the Doha Development Agenda by setting a bold goal that will provide enormous economic benefits to developing and developed economies and raise the level of ambition in all other areas of the negotiation,” stated Reinsch.
The NFTC has been on the forefront in calling for the comprehensive elimination of industrial tariffs, alongside calls for reductions in non-tariff barriers, as a central objective of the Doha Round, in a proposal it issued in March 2001. In May 2002, it reissued its tariff proposal, as part of an ambitious ten-point plan for the Doha Development Agenda.
Reinsch highlighted that “It is high time that WTO members completed the unfinished business of the GATT begun when the GATT was first established more than a half century ago. The founders of the GATT recognized that tariffs are burdensome taxes on consumers and businesses that lead to less growth, less development, and less trade. With domestic and global markets still in the doldrums, combined with the fact that volume of world trade declined in 2001 for the first time since 1982, there is a compelling need to pursue a bold approach on industrial tariffs.”
“Embracing the U.S. market access proposal will demonstrate that the multilateral trading system under the WTO intends to meet the twin challenges of proliferating regional trade agreements and globalization. It will also demonstrate the continuing relevance of the WTO to American business and workers. This negotiation is not just about access to the U.S. market, which is already relatively open. These negotiations are about reducing market access barriers among all WTO members. For example, 70 percent of the tariffs paid by developing countries are paid to other developing countries,” said Reinsch.
In underscoring the challenge before WTO members and the multilateral trading system, Reinsch stated that, “[t]he question the NFTC would ask WTO members is twofold — ‘does the WTO want to remain relevant as a leading force of trade liberalization, and does it want to play a key role in stimulating global economic growth and eliminating poverty?’”
“A successful Doha Development Agenda is the number one trade policy priority of the NFTC and its members, but it must deliver meaningful results. The NFTC views the U.S. market access proposal as central to the ultimate success of the Doha Round and urges WTO members to support the objective of zero tariffs by a date certain,” said Reinsch.
According to Reinsch, the U.S. proposal is “A win-win proposal. It addresses the concerns of developing countries and import sensitive industries, and is consistent with U.S. trade negotiating objectives calling for reciprocity. It will lead to poverty reduction in developing countries, promote global economic growth for all participating nations, and demonstrate that regional trade agreements are building blocks to broader multilateral trade liberalization.”