WASHINGTON – Acting United States Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier will attend an informal meeting of trade ministers in Mombassa, Kenya, March 3 – 4 focused on advancing the ongoing Doha round of trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The informal talks provide an opportunity to assess the progress of the negotiations in Geneva, and to provide “capital based” Minister level guidance for the negotiations.
“The mood and energy of the Doha negotiations have ramped up since the beginning of the year, with informal Ministerial meetings in Davos, the recent WTO Trade Negotiations Committee meeting, and the in-depth consultations among capital-based senior officials hosted by the United States. Much difficult work remains, but Ministers are committed to pushing the negotiating process forward in Geneva, particularly in the core areas of the negotiations: agriculture, goods, services, rules including trade facilitation, and development,” said Acting USTR Allgeier. “As we prepare for the Hong Kong ministerial meeting, these informal gatherings of ministers need to provide additional energy and direction to the negotiations.
“As President Bush said in Brussels last week, the United States is firmly committed to the Doha negotiations, and we look forward to working with developed and developing countries alike in advancing the talks,” Allgeier added. “In continuing to provide leadership to advance Doha, we will continue to also press all the WTO Members to step up and contribute, because Doha truly provides the best opportunity to promote continued global economic growth and hope and opportunity.”
“We are grateful to Kenyan Trade Minister Kituyi for taking the initiative to host this meeting. This is part of a positive pattern of Kenyan and African engagement, which we are confident will continue. Approximately a year ago, Kenya hosted an important meeting of African trade ministers, at which both the U.S. and the EU participated, and it was one of a series of key meetings in 2004 which led to our successful and historic framework last July in Geneva,” said Allgeier.
Joining Ambassador Allgeier at the meeting with be Ambassador Allen Johnson, Chief Agriculture Negotiator, and Dorothy Dwoskin, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs.
Background on U.S. Efforts to Advance the Doha Negotiations:
In 2004, the United States pressed for action on the Doha agenda. Then U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick stated in a January letter to all WTO Ministers that 2004 should not be a lost year for Doha negotiations, and it outlined a number of practical suggestions and ways to put the negotiations back on track. In February, he traveled over 32,000 miles around the world and met with over 40 counterparts, including Mombassa, Kenya, to hear their views and discuss how best to get the negotiations back on track. In May, Zoellick hosted a small gathering of colleagues in London to facilitate a discussion about how to keep the Doha negotiations moving forward. He joined Ministers from the EU, India, and Australia at a gathering hosted by Brazil in Sao Paulo in early June. He also joined these colleagues at a meeting in Paris and then traveled to Mauritius on July 12 for a meeting of some of the so-called G-90, a group of ACP (African, Carribean and Pacific), and African Union, and Least Developed Countries. In Geneva last July the Doha negotiations were moved ahead with an agreement that puts the WTO on course to open markets for agriculture, goods and services. The Framework provides structure and direction to the ongoing trade talks, which are designed to promote global economic growth and development in developed and developing countries.
Background on U.S. Negotiating Proposals:
Within the Doha negotiations, the United States was the first WTO member to put forward a comprehensive agricultural trade reform proposal, calling for elimination of export subsidies, cuts of $100 billion in annual allowed global trade-distorting domestic subsidies, and lowering average allowed global tariffs from 62 percent to 15 percent. The United States also proposed that WTO members agree in this negotiation to a specific date for elimination of agricultural tariffs and trade-distorting domestic support.
The United States proposed eliminating all tariffs on consumer and industrial goods by 2015. The U.S. plan for zero tariffs is comprehensive, would benefit both developed and developing nations, and would eliminate tariffs on the over $6 trillion in annual world goods trade, lifting the economic fortunes of workers, families, businesses, and consumers. A University of Michigan study estimates that global free trade in goods and services would raise U.S. annual income by $500 billion as a result of tariff- free trade - contributing to higher paying jobs. The same study found gains of up to $690 billion for the EU and EFTA together (Western Europe).
In services, the United States proposed liberalizing global trade in services by removing foreign barriers in areas such as financial services, telecom, express delivery, energy, among others. Service industries are a major component of U.S. economic activity, accounting for 80 percent of U.S. employment and 63 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The United States also is the world's largest exporter of services. U.S. services exports have increased more than 70% in the last 10 years, increasing from $199 billion in 1994 to $340 billion in 2004 (estimated from 11 months data).
According to the World Bank, developing countries would gain nearly two-thirds of the benefit from global free trade in goods including agriculture. Their increase in annual income would amount to $539 billion. The bank further found that free trade could help lift 300 million people out of poverty - a number greater than the entire population of the United States.