USTR - E.U. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick Joint Press Availability
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

E.U. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick Joint Press Availability
12/06/2004

 

Commissioner Mandelson:  Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassador Zoellick and I have had our first substantive meeting, and I have to say it’s been a very substantative one indeed.  We have focused on the DDA, on the Doha Development Agenda, and our joint desire and determination to see that Round make progress during 2005 in the run up to the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting, which is planned for December, next year.  I was recently in Geneva, and I was able to give the Ambassador a readout of my impressions on the progress being made, in the different categories of discussion and negotiations, not just agriculture but in relation to the manufactures, services, rules, and trade facilitation and other areas.

Both of us I think take the view that some sharper focus is required and we certainly batted around between us some ideas that we can share with our partners in these talks, to revitalize the Round to make sure that it makes the progress we want to see in 2005.  And that we seek an early opportunity to add some political propulsion and some momentum.  That we certainly wouldn’t dream of trying to do alone.  We have important partners with whom to do that, with whom we’ll be in contact in having discussions over the next few weeks and into the new year.

But I would like to say that I have enjoyed these first talks very much indeed, with the Ambassador.  He has shown me considerable courtesy, he has been very forthcoming, and for a new kid on the block, I couldn’t have had a better introducer to some of the complex issues that together we are going to be taking forward in the weeks and months to come.

USTR Zoellick:  Well, I very much enjoyed having my first official meeting with Peter.  We have known each other over many years, and I think I just, in a conversation or in an email not too long ago, I mentioned that I first had a chance to meet him at a dinner shortly before the Prime Minister won his election, so it came at the right time.

As Peter mentioned, we had a lengthy discussion, it went on for about three and a half hours, I am sure we could have gone on for many more hours, but we both have other engagements.  We spent most of our time on the Doha agenda.  I was in Chile, at the APEC meeting, a few weeks ago where the countries of the Asia Pacific started a push in the direction of gaining some momentum going into 2005.  And so I was very pleased that we had this opportunity to start to consult with Peter and his team about some of the European perspectives on what we need to do to make 2005 a productive year.  I am going from here to some meetings in West Africa and South Africa, but I think, as Peter said we, the key here is to try to keep up the momentum that we have been able to develop.  It is going to take a lot of partners to make this work but clearly some good cooperation between the United States and Europe is fundamental.  We also discussed some bilateral issues, but on some of those I think we are going to have to have some follow up by phone and others because most of the time was spent on Doha.

Commissioner Mandelson: Ok?  No questions?

Reporter:  Did you discuss the Boeing and Airbus fight?

Commissioner Mandelson:  As you’d expect us to do, yes we did.  We had a very good exchange of positions on this and if I had any doubt as to where Bob is coming from on all this I think those doubts were cleared up.  He comes with a very strong position with a set of very strong views on this subject. And clearly if we are going to avoid litigation and the pursuit of the cases that both of us have now entered, we’re going to have to have some pretty serious discussion about the alternative to that litigation. That’s a discussion that he and I will have in the next couple of weeks.

Reporter: Axel Krause.  To follow up on that question, there is some confusion as to whether or not the Administration considers that the 1992 agreement is dead, by unilateral declaration on the U.S. side. Sources in Brussels are saying that that is not necessarily the case, if you read the agreement, it’s possible that you could interpret that as saying there is still this time to negotiate, leaving open the possibility of a continuing negotiation of the 1992 Agreement.  The question is, what next?  Is it the 1992 Agreement, or is it going to be something different?

Commissioner Mandelson: Well we have to take it forward. I mean I don’t think it is the most fruitful debate to have is to whether as a result of the actions that have been taken, whether an agreement is alive or how alive it is. I’d rather look to the future and sort out how we are going to resolve our differences on this, and that I am committed to doing.

Ok?

Reporter :  Noel Forgeard, the CEO of Airbus, has said that either you fight and litigate within the WTO or you negotiate amicably.  Which will it be? You can’t do both.

Commissioner Mandelson:  Well it’s not actually up to him to determine whether or not that is the case.  But there are two ways forward, it’s perfectly true, I mean, you might actually do both those things, there’s no law which says you can’t.  Whether it’s practical to do both, though is a different question. And we all have our views on that.  But I am more interested in seeing how we can resolve our differences through a process of negotiation, put together on a mutually agreed basis. If it is not possible to do that, then obviously the option to proceed with both cases exists.  That option has not been excluded.

USTR Zoellick:  Not surprisingly, although all of you have a parochial question on one topic, I have listened very carefully to what Peter has said, and I find myself in very general agreement about this.  And so what I think what we all recognize is that this is a very difficult, complex issue.  Peter is just starting this position, but he’s obviously had a chance to get himself well versed on a lot of these issues, we’re going to have some further discussions. Litigation is an option that we remain very prepared for, and may very well take that course.  But we’ll try to see what alternatives are present.  And frankly, I agree with what Peter said about the ’92 Agreement.  I think it’s kind of a diversion frankly, what we’re we now are trying to really get at is the underlying substance of the issue.

Reporter:  ...[unintelligible]

USTR Zoellick:  I’m shocked to think that you, I’m softening [unintelligible]... Europe would. Look, one of my first trips was with Europe, to the European Parliament.  And obviously, I had a very good and effective relationship with Peter’s predecessor, Commissioner Lamy. We got a lot of things going ahead with the Doha agenda.  And that’s one reason why I wanted to consult and get Peter’s and his colleague’s views about going forward.  So, look, I think one of the challenges in this relationship is how do we work together on some global topics, the Doha agenda, but there’s others that we talked about today.  But also managing a series of bilateral disputes, but also opportunities, and Peter mentioned some again where he’s wanted to strengthen that relationship.  So I don’t think I’ve hardened or softened.  I think that for the past four years I’ve tried to have a cooperative, problem solving, constructive relationship, and I’m proud, I think we have.

Moderator: Thank you.

Commissioner Mandelson:  And in answer to the previous question, I didn’t hear a great deal of softening going on this afternoon, and if you had been in the room with me I think you would have discovered the same thing.

 
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