Today’s meeting is an important opportunity to take stock of where we are
but, more importantly, to identify very clearly what we need to do to achieve
the goals set out for us by the ministers in Doha and reaffirmed in Hong
I will not belabor the point of where we are—more precisely, where we aren’t.
Suffice it to say that we share the disappointment of others that we have not
achieved the objectives that Ministers in Hong Kong set out for us to achieve by
the end of April.
This situation is more than a matter of disappointment. Missing
the April 30th deadline raises serious questions about our collective commitment
to the Doha goals of significant liberalization and reform of trade this year.
In the case of the United States, our determination to conclude the DDA
negotiations successfully before the end of this year remains as strong as
Our objective of ambitious results also remains undiminished.
No one should be lulled into thinking that the negotiations, and our jobs of
selling the results to our respective domestic constituencies, will be easier if
we all just lower our sights.
It won’t be easier.
We can only achieve success if the
negotiations produce significant, new market opportunities for trade in
agricultural products, manufactured goods, and services. In all three areas,
there must be significant improvements from the actual conditions that currently
exist in the markets—not just “cuts on paper”. The United States is prepared to
negotiate an agreement that meets that standard.
The developing countries, most of all, need such a result. They will be
the biggest losers if we fail.
We strongly support the processes that the Director- General and the
Negotiating Group Chairs have put before us. Ambassadors Portman and Schwab will
affirm this support in their meetings with members in Geneva over the next two
We particularly agree that it would be dangerous in the extreme to back
load all of the tough decisions to the end of July - either through a decision,
or through inaction. The end of July is not the conclusion of the DDA. We
agreed at Hong Kong that it would be the start of the final negotiations.
We can bring the DDA to a successful conclusion by the end of this year if we
stay focused on the job at hand and make the necessary decisions. We need
to do this in the coming weeks. We do not have the luxury of postponing
decisions on agricultural and NAMA modalities until the end of July. We
must start to see the shape of the overall package in July, and we cannot do
that if we put off these two essential files.
Once we have the
modalities in place—even so-called “full modalities”—we still have an enormous
amount of work to do. First, we each will have to prepare our line-by-line
tariff schedules in agriculture and NAMA. That will take even the
strongest teams two to three months to prepare. But that’s not the end of
the negotiating process; it’s the beginning of the final negotiating
There will have to be negotiations to get satisfactory balances among
countries and in the relations among the various parts of the DDA, especially in
agriculture, where there are multiple forms of flexibility that
cumulatively can have a huge impact on what new access is provided .
Similarly, when the revised services offers are submitted by July
31st—and we urge all members to take that deadline seriously—we face another
very detailed negotiating process to obtain the final outcome for services. That
will take months.
In other areas of the negotiations, such as the various rules areas and trade
facilitation, we must have solid draft texts by the end of July that garner
sufficient consensus among Members to serve as the basis for negotiating the
final agreement. But since they will be drafts, there will be substantial
negotiating left to do in those areas as well after July.
So let us not be complacent about the tasks before us. The Ministers were
aware of the time needed to complete these steps when they agreed on the April
30th deadline. And even the assumption that we could complete all of these
post-modality steps after April 30th was optimistic, to say the least. In some
peoples’ minds, bordering on the unrealizable.
So we have an
enormous challenge facing us in the days ahead. Can we rapidly reach
agreement on the modalities for agriculture and NAMA, even as we intensify the
negotiations in the other areas of the DDA? And once we meet the challenge
of modalities, can we shift immediately to the next stages of those
negotiations, before the end of July?
I lay out this daunting outline of our work—and it certainly is not a
comprehensive outline—not to dishearten everyone, but to stress the urgency of
completing our work soon on the modalities in agriculture and NAMA.
In recent weeks we have seen a lot of hand wringing and jeremiads over
whether the DDA is doomed to failure and whether the attention of the major
players is turning elsewhere.
Beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. We should heed the warnings,
but let’s prove the lamentators—and the commentators--- to be wrong.
For our part, the United States remains firmly committed at the very highest
level to the success of the DDA. There should be no doubt whatsoever that
we are prepared to: (1) exercise the will, (2) devote the resources, (3)
provide the leadership, and (4) work with the rest of the membership to achieve
the strong agreement this year that we all signed on for at Doha and Hong