Thank you very much for that introduction, Audrae, that
was a great introduction.
I am going to offer some prepared thoughts and then will be
happy to take your questions. I would say to our friends in the media, Ed, I
think we are going to offer an opportunity afterwards to ask questions, so if I
could have questions here from the coalition members.
Well, thanks and good morning, it is a pleasure to be here.
My thanks also to the members of the Agricultural Trade Coalition for inviting
me. All of you know the importance
of an ambitious outcome for agriculture in the Doha negotiations. I would like
to thank you for your loyalty to the agricultural industry. An industry that I
do feel very passionate about, and for your strong support for international
The negotiations surrounding the trade liberalization process
have certainly experienced their ups and downs, you’ve read all about it. But we
are determined to stay on track and urge others to follow the ambitious offer
that was tabled by the U.S. recently. Your steadfast support has been a critical
morale builder since the Doha Round was launched in 2001. Your enthusiasm and
hard work have helped us to stay the course through the passage of important
trade legislation, also, such as Trade Promotion Authority, CAFTA, and other
bilateral trade agreements. If I had no other message today but to say thank
you, that would be sufficient.
Just this week, we achieved the reopening of the Japanese
market to U.S. beef. I’ve been
smiling all week about that. This has been among my top priorities since I was
confirmed as Secretary in January and I just want to thank you again for your
support in this area.
To our friends in Japan, we applaud Japan’s acceptance of a
science-based system for trade in beef and will continue to work with them to
fully implement the internationally recognized OIE standards. I believe Japanese consumers will
quickly return to our high quality U.S. beef when given that opportunity and
that choice. I will also share with you that this has moved along very, very
nicely and beef is literally within days, if not as we speak, ready to be
shipped to Japan.
We are not going to relent in our efforts to open other
markets for our beef. We still have some markets that are closed. Now really is
the time for South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and others to
follow the Japanese example and resume normal trading relationships. Let me
assure you that I have seized the opportunity while here to press for trade
resumption during meetings with ministers from other countries.
But our broader focus this week is on the tremendous
opportunity before us to make a real difference in terms of trade in developing
countries. Agriculture is the major focus of the WTO negotiations, and you know
what? That’s rightfully so. Without fundamental reform in agriculture, this
Round will not live up to its name:
the Doha Development Round.
The Round really is our best opportunity to provide member nations a
future. A future of economic growth.
Significant agricultural trade reform will boost economic prosperity.
Much of this would result from greater access to global markets.
A key issue of concern this week is delivering on the promise
for developing countries to share in the prosperity that comes from trade. Two
months ago, we presented a bold and ambitious agriculture proposal to increase
market access, reduce trade-distorting domestic support, and eliminate export
If the European Union had responded positively to our
proposal eight weeks ago, I don’t think there is any doubt, we would be further
along. The EU has not done that to date.
To some, this lack of progress may be discouraging, but we
can’t let up on our ambition. Several recent highly credible studies have
indicated just what the stakes are. Economic opportunity and political freedom
are keys to eliminating destabilizing effects of poverty and desperation. That’s
why agricultural reform and improved market access are such fundamental parts of
this round. There are so many studies in this area. The World Bank has
calculated that 63 percent of the gains from full trade liberalization would
come from agriculture. That’s a remarkable statistic. Equally significant
though, when we focus on the agricultural gains, 93 percent would result from
improved market access. You can see why market access is so important to the
Under Doha, every nation stands to gain, but the developing
world stands to gain the most. Indeed, World Bank studies have made it clear
that opening trade flows can give tens or even hundreds of millions of people an
escape from poverty. This was one of the key motivations in launching the Doha
Development Round and is one of the central points of discussion here this week.
When we reached consensus in July 2004 on the Framework, a commitment was made
to provide duty-free and quota-free market access for products originating from
The United States is prepared to engage in this discussion,
we already have. I believe that’s significant because the United States, ladies
and gentleman, is the most open market in the world. It just flat is. Let me
offer some comparisons, if I might. The Global Monitoring Report ranks nations
on their openness. A low score is good score here. The United States rated a
five, while our friends in the EU were graded at 13 and Japan at 21. Sixty-five
percent of our imports of all products from developing countries today enter the
United States duty-free. And, I’d note, about 61 percent of our 800 million
dollar trade deficit is with developing countries. And yet, we are at the table.
In the past weeks in our talks among the G-6 countries, we’ve explored what
might be achieved in Hong Kong.
We believe we could build on existing programs. The Africa
Growth and Opportunity Act would be one example. And we envision these as
opportunities to build trade. We’d also need to come up with criteria to address
those developing counties that already are competitive in the global marketplace
for certain products, but essentially all products would be covered. I expect
more discussion on this topic over the days ahead. And let me emphasize again,
we are engaged.
As important as trade is, the United States recognizes that
trade capacity building and assistance is also enormously important to
development. It is a lot easier to engage in trade and reap its benefits when
you have a reliable telecommunications system, when your roads are passable,
your ports move cargo efficiently and safely, and when your legal and financial
institutions are sound.
The United States, my friends, takes a back seat to no one.
Takes a back seat to no one when it comes to trade-related assistance. We
provided $1.34 billion in Aid for Trade grants this year, up 46 percent from
last year. Our spending on trade-related assistance has more than doubled in the
last five years. And yesterday, we said that we wanted to do more. Yesterday,
Ambassador Portman announced in his opening speech to the WTO Ministerial that
we plan to double again our contributions to Aid for Trade to $2.7 billion by
Through our partnership with developing countries, especially
the least developed, we share the goal of reducing poverty and increasing their
capacity to trade. A part of our strategy must encompass the trade capacity
building that strengthens governmental institutions and policies. Trade capacity
building is a tool for opening markets, and it is also in the interests of
developing and developed countries.
Let me mention one other topic of much discussion here this
week and that is cotton and the interests of the West African countries, or
other African countries. Many of you recall the attention given to this in
Cancun. Some claim that our cotton program depresses the prices received by
growers in these countries and there have been calls for compensation funds and
an early harvest and reform in this area of cotton.
First, it’s important to point out that recognized
institutions, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the
International Monetary Fund, have studies showing that the price suppression
resulting from subsidies and tariffs is really small.
The FAO estimated that if global tariffs and subsidies were
eliminated, world cotton prices would rise by about 3 percent. Of this, at most,
two percent would be attributed to eliminating- eliminating the U.S. cotton
program. And that fails to consider other factors, very important factor at
play. For example, these countries have yields about half of the world average
and about a third of U.S. cotton yields. Beyond these production issues, and
they are complex, competitive buyers are non-existent and marketing reform needs
to occur. So, it isn’t hard to see that there are many challenges that must be
overcome to address world cotton prices. Challenges of far greater consequence
than U.S. programs.
With that said, for some years our cotton program has been
the focus of critics’ attention. The 2004 Framework calls on members to address
cotton on two tracks, trade and development. That the trade track means cotton
will be addressed as part of the agriculture negotiations and there it says,
specifically, ambitiously and expeditiously. On the development track, we have
actively engaged these countries and committed substantial resources, as you
know. I especially want to commend our cotton industry. They’ve stepped up to
this. They have demonstrated their effort in this engagement. Together we have
visited these nations and assessed what could be done to improve their
We have brought agriculture and trade ministers to the United
States to learn more about the American cotton industry and how our technology
can be applied to their countries to improve the productivity and marketability
of cotton. Our private sector has made an immensely important contribution to
this process by launching a thorough evaluation of West African cotton
productivity, ginning technology and marketing techniques.
About a month ago, Ambassador Portman and I went to Burkina
Faso where we launched a West Africa Cotton Improvement Program. This program
will strengthen Western African private sector organizations, link United States
and West African agricultural research, reduce soil erosion, establish a ginning
school, and improve the quality of cotton through better technology.
But fundamentally what will best meet the needs of the West
African countries, in the end, is an ambitious outcome in these agricultural
negotiations, such as what we proposed in October. I believe that we all
recognize this and I have to tell you that the world has applauded our proposal.
We have proposed to end all export subsidies and implement new disciplines on
export credit programs.
We have proposed to substantially reduce and then eliminate
tariffs, and we have proposed substantial reductions in trade-distorting
domestic support. And I might add, with a pathway to elimination. Last evening
there was quite a discussion of this issue at the plenarary session. I expect it
to remain an important point for the rest of this ministerial meeting.
We intend to keep doing our share in promoting a level
playing field for all WTO members, and we will continue to engage our trading
partners. But I will give you an honest assessment. I am concerned about time.
We are still waiting for the EU to match our ambition. We need to move forward
together. That’s what negotiations are about. It is my hope that at the end of
this process we will have achieved an agreement that will fulfill the noble
promise of this round.
I want to wrap-up my comments where I began today to say
thank you, to you and your organizations for standing with us since we began
these talks. We have asked you in the United States to do some hard things and
you have stepped up with us to support that. Your advice and counsel have been
enormously helpful to us.
When we wrap up this week's Ministerial, I am confident that
we can set a course for success in 2006 in the Doha Round. See, I feel really
strongly that the world has no other real alternative. So much depends upon the
success of this round.
Thank you very much.