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Statement by Ambassador Michael Froman on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

"We are deeply disappointed that backsliding on Trade Facilitation has brought the WTO to the brink of crisis.  After long and difficult negotiations, Ministers in Bali unanimously agreed last December on a package of agreements, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement and an agreement on food stockpiling, each with its own work program and timetable.  A decision to walk away from that package would have serious ramifications on the future of the Doha Round.

"Dozens of countries, including the G-20 Trade Ministers, have sought to provide assurances that we are committed to fulfill all elements of the Bali agreement.  We have backed up those assurances by contributing actively over the last several months to furthering the food stockpiling discussion and by mobilizing resources to help developing countries meet their trade facilitation commitments.

"It is also important to note that, once the Trade Facilitation Agreement protocol is adopted, each WTO Member will have a full year to consider its own domestic decisions regarding ratification of the agreement.

"The current state of play on Trade Facilitation threatens to deal a serious blow to the credibility of the multilateral trading system and to set back the development needs of many countries around the world.  We will be consulting with other WTO Members on appropriate next steps."