USTR - Transcript of Media Availability of US Trade Representative Rob Portman and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson
The Office of the United States Trade Representative

Transcript of Media Availability of US Trade Representative Rob Portman and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Washington DC 06/17/2005

USTR PORTMAN:  Well, thank you all very much for being here, for your patience. Our meeting went over a little bit, because we had a lot to talk about. And we have a lot to talk about because the EU and the
US share so much in common in terms of our goals.

On Monday we will have the opportunity to have the EU-US Summit, and one of the discussion points we just had in our meeting was what we hope to come out of that Summit. This is to encourage our transatlantic business cooperation which is extensive.  We hope to be able to make further progress on regulatory cooperation, for instance, as well as make additional gains together in terms of enforcing intellectual property rights.

And today our discussion was about preparations for that Summit, and again was very constructive and helpful. We also talked about the Doha round. The WTO Doha round is one that the EU and the US both feel very strongly about. We have so much in common in terms of our interest in reducing barriers around the globe. In areas of services and the area of non-agricultural products and, of course, in the area of agriculture, and again we had a very constructive conversation on those issues, a candid assessment of where we are. Commissioner Mandelson was able to give me a report from Geneva, and as I said in the past we are concerned that the talks have lagged. We would like to see more progress, and Commissioner Mandelson’s report to me was that indeed there is a need for more progress. We talked specifically how to make that progress together reaching out of course to the other countries in the WTO, and working together. I was able to give him a brief report on my trip to Korea, the APEC meetings, and the progress we were able to make there in the area of non-agricultural market access, particularly in the adoption by the APEC countries of the so called Swiss formula.

This is a period of time where there will be an intensification of our cooperation, between the EU and the United States, as well as other countries. Some of you know there is a meeting scheduled in China, Dalian, in mid-July.  We then expect there to be successful General Council meeting at the end of July. I expect to go to Geneva for that. We then are moving toward the end of the year meeting in Hong Kong and that Hong Kong Ministerial is extremely important to make sure that we meet our targets on a successful completion of Doha. 

So again, today we had a very good discussion, frank exchange of where we are and how we can work together and move forward to advance our mutual agendas of reducing barriers to goods and services and encouraging economic development. Not just in our countries as the two largest trading partners in the world, but significantly for the developing world. We truly believe that by knocking down barriers we will be able to pull millions of people out of poverty and to improve economic prosperity, not just again in the countries we represent but across the globe.

Commissioner Mandelson.

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: Rob, thank you very much. We’ve had another not only a very constructive meeting but an enjoyable meeting. So I’ve been glad to have the opportunity to review a number of things with Rob getting ready for the summit on Monday, as well as the chief focus, as he said, of our discussions this morning which have been on the Doha round.

Can I just say on the EU-US relationship? This is such an important relationship. It’s a billion dollar-a-day relationship, that’s how important it is.  That’s why when we work together on global and international issues, and strengthen our bilateral economic ties.  That’s not just good for us, it’s good for the rest of the world. And I’m always mindful of that, which is why I am glad of the opportunity to work as closely as I do with Rob Portman. He’s had his hands full since he came into office here but it doesn’t stop him traveling and making an impact elsewhere in the world. And I appreciate that.

On the DDA, there is an urgent need for reinvigorated leadership from the United States and Europe, but also from those other major developing countries who stand to gain most from open markets, from freeing up trade and from better rules in our international trading system and we are going to intensify our efforts in the round and working closer together in the coming weeks. It’s a very, very important period, but we also want to work very closely with other nations, key players in this round. There’s some leading development countries who need to make a clear commitment to real not theoretical market openings in sectors that matter to them and us so that we can get a clear win-win outcome with ambitious results from the Doha round. That’s important if we are going to carry it politically but it is even more important if we’re going to deliver not only for our communities whom we represent but for some very hard pressed and very needy developing countries in the world.

The Doha round in particular must deliver for Africa, but I’ll just say this, that giving market access to the poorest in the world without also helping them to build capacity to exploit it is like putting a plate of food in front of a man without the knife and fork to eat it. So we’ve to invest in capacities, in strengthening the supply side of developing countries to enable them to avail themselves of the opportunities, the market opening, the trade liberalizing that we believe in, in which we believe will flow from a successful round. So, in addition to those meetings that are coming up between now and the August break, we have our eyes set on Hong Kong. It’s going to be a very important meeting at the end of the year and we certainly will be working hard, re-doubling our efforts to make sure it comes to an ambitious achievement at the end of the year for a successful round completed beyond that.

Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Due to the schedule, we have time for 3 or 4 questions.

REPORTER: Ambassador Portman somebody else has said that the best way to solve aircraft disputes was to throw it into the Doha Round. Are you supportive of that idea? Are you supportive of Airbus proposals which (inaudible) launch aid to indirect support?

USTR PORTMAN: I think the Doha Round is having enough trouble getting off the ground. To use your aircraft analogy.

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: I’m sure they’ll love that.

USTR PORTMAN: I told Peter as we were downstairs that if I received a question on Boeing-Airbus dispute, I was going to make the comment that we wouldn’t want to take away from the great press that the Paris Air show is getting this weekend by talking about it. But we did have a discussion about the issue of course and we continue to have positions that are publicly known. We both would like to see a negotiated settlement. The talks will continue. Our doors are open, as Commissioner Mandelson and I know. We hope to be able to resolve the issue.

REPORTER: Did you discuss Russia’s accession into the WTO? Are we on track for completing our bilateral negotiations by the end of the year? (Inaudible)

USTR PORTMAN: I had a great meeting with Minister Gref in Korea and went into some depth. He is a very capable, very bright negotiator. He was well informed on all the issues, as you know we had a great success earlier this week when we signed the meat poultry agreement with Russia. I think it had been over a year and coming so that the signature was welcomed. So we are making progress. It’s not an issue we discussed in depth today between us. It was mentioned but I would hope that we can resolve the issues by year end. As you know this is one of those issues that is not typical and it involves our U.S. Congress approving the accession because of the Jackson-Vanik commitment. So it’s one that we will be following very, very closely not just to work out an appropriate agreement with Russia, I know the EU has already worked out an agreement but also working and consulting carefully with the U.S Congress.

REPORTER: Will you respond to the question on the aircraft dispute? And do you agree you are willing to continue talks even as the cases go through the WTO?

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: The channels of communication between us are open, I mean, of course. I don’t think I can improve on what Rob said, to be honest. I thought he spoke for both of us on what he said.

REPORTER:  Does that change your position? I thought the EU was not going to talk if the case was filed?

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: Are you suggesting that Rob and I would stop talking to each other about anything? [Laughter] You’ve got to be joking.

REPORTER: How hopeful are you that you can get something resolved?

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: I am a politician and therefore I’m an optimist.

REPORTER: Mr. Portman, (inaudible) you mentioned progress in the Doha round? Can you be more specific? Do you have any specific ideas of what the US and the EU can do?

USTR PORTMAN: Frankly, Peter brought with him some very substantive and specific information from Geneva that was helpful to me as to where we are on agricultural negotiations. There are ongoing meetings, as you know, at the senior official level with regard to the progress on the non-agricultural market access talks after the APEC meeting and where we are with the Swiss formula and how the coefficients might work and then finally on services and what kind of offers  we’re getting and so on. So it was helpful for me to get that report.

I was able to report to him some of the information that I was able to receive in Korea and some of the information that we’ve received from our individual meetings we’ve had, bilateral meetings, even this week and again the EU and the US share considerable common ground on the specific issues and we share the same goal which is an ambitious completion of the Doha round that helps again not just the countries we represent, but that helps the rest of the world and we are true believers in the value of market access and the value of reducing barriers. And so we talked again about not just the assessment of where we are but how to make progress moving forward. We are now hopeful that after the discussions in China we can make even more progress, then moving forward to Geneva at the end of July.

MODERATOR: Last question.

USTR PORTMAN: Could I interrupt you? I’d like Commissioner Mandelson to have a chance to answer your questions as well.

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: On Doha. Look the round is not going as quickly as we would like, we’re not making as much substantive progress as we would prefer. But it is going better than sometimes appears. I mean quietly behind the scenes there are a number of various negotiations which are making progress, where positions are converging. It will be nice to be able to bring these more out into the open in order to demonstrate the value of the work that’s being done but I would rather we traveled thoroughly and carefully than hurriedly. We need to get to the end of this round, as Rob says, in an ambitious way. Of course, it’s easy to head for some lowest common denominator basis of any negotiation. If we wanted a quick fix, we can agree on very little and then produce for you a finely packaged result. That’s not what we want. We want something bigger and better. If that takes more work and more time then so be it. We’re certainly going to intensify our efforts. We’ve identified a number of areas where we can share our homework together but we want to work with others, too. There are a variety of different players and constituencies in this round and our work, our relationship with all of them is very important indeed to us and that’s how we’re going to continue working on this.

REPORTER:  Just a quick question on the Summit - I understand that there is still not an agreed economic agenda for the Summit and it’s resulting in 4-5 hour teleconferences everyday and exchanging…

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: Good. Let them work for their incomes and (inaudible). About time, too, they shared a bit of…

REPORTER:  What’s the sticking point? Why (inaudible)?

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: Don’t you want to save something up for the politicians to decide? Why should everything be decided and cooked in advance? I gather that there are texts and things being worked on but we’ve got something to say about these things as well.

USTR PORTMAN: Let me just add to that. Peter indicates we need to be sure that there’s staff working, we need to be sure our bosses are working, too. After all, the heads of state will be here to make decisions.


USTR PORTMAN: Just like in the Constitution. Seriously, I think it will be a productive meeting on Monday but we did not today make decisions as to the Summit. The Summit is on Monday and Tuesday. We think the preparations are going well. I mention regulatory cooperation because that’s an issue that has been brought to the fore by the Transatlantic Business Alliance and it’s an issue I think can be quite productively dealt with in the context of the Summit cause there’s some obvious changes we can make in business practices, rules, regulations to make it easier to do business but another one is intellectual property reform. The intellectual property issue is one that has gained more and more interest in the US Congress as you probably noticed as it relates to China. But it’s not just about China. It’s about a good global effort to be sure that patents and trademarks and copyright are protected that the innovators, entrepreneurs and artists have their work protected. It’s about private property and what you will see I think on Monday is a strong statement by the European Union and the United States on that regard. 

MODERATOR: Thank you all.

REPORTER: (inaudible)...the importance for the European Union for CAFTA to pass?

USTR PORTMAN: Peter what do you think about that?

COMMISSIONER MANDELSON: Well, as you know I've got fairly strong views on this and I think all contributions are welcome to getting CAFTA through. It would certainly send a very positive signal to the rest of the world if CAFTA went through and I hope it does. A lot of people outside of America are banking on this going through, we want to see it happen.

Thank you all very much.