WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman issued the following statement regarding the 338 to 86 vote in the House of Representatives against a resolution withdrawing Congressional approval for the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement of which the U.S. is a member.
"I’m pleased that the House has overwhelmingly rejected efforts to withdraw congressional support for U.S. participation in the WTO. I look forward to working with Congress to lower tariffs to American products which can only be completed with engagement with our trading partners. The WTO provides an important framework for a fair, rules based, international system of trade that we benefit from every day," said Portman. "American exporters face high tariffs and other trade barriers around the world, and the ongoing Doha trade negotiations offer us the best opportunity to really level the playing field."
"The United States helped create the WTO, and with President Bush’s leadership, we helped launch the current Doha negotiations and have kept them moving in the direction of ambition. Today’s vote by the House of Representatives sends a strong message that the United States will continue to lead in the WTO," said Portman. "This vote also gives our free trade agreement with Central America a strong shot in the arm. We are turning the tide, we’re making good progress and I look forward to Congressional passage of CAFTA-DR soon."
Background on the Resolution:
As part of its 1994 implementing legislation for the WTO, Congress specifically approved the agreement that established the WTO. The 1994 statute includes a special procedure for Congress to consider whether to withdraw that approval once every five years (beginning in 2000).
A joint resolution to withdraw Congressional approval of the WTO agreement was introduced in the House on March 2. Because a joint resolution must pass both Chambers, its defeat today in the House means that the resolution has failed.
Background on Doha Development Agenda (DDA) Benefits:
The benefits from successful DDA negotiations have the potential to give new momentum to the global economy and further the development prospects of poorer countries around the globe. A University of Michigan study estimates that a one-third cut in global barriers to goods and services trade would mean $2,500 a year in increased purchasing power for the average American family of four. The Center for Global Development has furthermore found that a successful conclusion to the DDA negotiations could lift 500 million of the global poor out of poverty and add $200 billion annually to developing country economies. The focus of the agenda is on the core areas for growth and development: agricultural reform and liberalization, expanded market access for trade in manufactures and services and new rules on trade facilitation. These "market access" issues form the basis for a negotiation that can achieve significant gains for American interests and the global economy.