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Remarks by Ambassador Allgeier before the WTO Trade Policy Review Board

Meeting of the World Trade Organziation (WTO) Trade Policy Review Board
April 14, 2009
Geneva, Switzerland

The United States thanks Director-General Lamy and the Secretariat for this Report on the Financial and Economic Crisis and Trade-Related Developments that monitors the trade-related implications of individual economies' responses to the ongoing economic crisis.

We appreciate Members' contributions to the latest report, which we found quite useful. Everyone can take issue with some of the report's inclusions and exclusions, but we understand the challenge faced by the Secretariat in putting such a report together and compliment them on this second report.

The results of our own monitoring are similar to the factual contents of the report. We understand the danger of an incremental buildup of restrictions but do not think that the facts bear out the suggestion in the introduction of the report that "there has been significant slippage" since the beginning of the year. The Director-General this morning used the term "some slippage," which we think is more accurate. Overall, in the face of strong pressures in many capitals, major protectionist measures have been avoided. Our monitoring has also made us aware of numerous restrictive measures being considered by our trading partners but which have ultimately been rejected. We appreciate such decisions.

We interpret the results as showing that - thus far - the system is working, largely due to a combination of the presence and awareness of WTO rules along with the effects of very visible individual and collective monitoring efforts.

That said, there is no doubt that the global trading system is currently being tested severely, and as the Director-General pointed out, the importance of great vigilance in monitoring the situation is obvious.

We applaud the renewed focus in the committees regarding notifications, which is exactly the kind of institutional work that helps keep the global trading system in good operating order. That exercise is both timely and very useful.

And beyond notifications, we would again note that these times also demand a new energy by all of us in our day to day work here in Geneva that often gets little public attention. For a number of the measures in the Secretariat's report - and for some others not on the list - the United States has begun to work with some of our partners to use the relevant committees, working parties and councils to address our concerns.

We look forward to continuing this work with other Members, as we try to meet the challenges we all still face.

I wish to reiterate that the U.S. remains committed to conclude (as the G-20 leaders said) "an ambitious and balanced" DDA. In that regard, we support India's request for details on the $150 billion figure in the report for estimated tariff savings from DDA.

And, finally, we appreciate Director-General Lamy's continuing efforts to raise the awareness of problems on the trade finance side and the need to maintain our Aid for Trade efforts, and we welcome the actions of the G-20 on these matters.