I want to thank you all very much for your patience. We had a lot to talk about and I
apologize that we held you up a little bit, but it’s a good sign, in terms of
EU-US relations and in terms of the larger issue of
Commissioner Mandelson and I have just
concluded very constructive meetings that took place not just this morning, but
also yesterday afternoon and evening.
In fact yesterday we were joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike
Johanns and also the EU Agriculture Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel. Because we were very interested in
getting their input and being sure we could make progress on the agriculture
issues. We have in our talks
reviewed a number of bilateral issues between the EU and the
also the state of play in the Doha round
of negotiations and we have discussed preparations, of course, for the
ministerial meeting coming up in Hong
Kong at the end of the
Our talks are well timed, I think. Today in a speech before the United
Nations General Assembly, President Bush talked about trade. He talked about it in the context of
development. He broadened and
reaffirmed his commitment to Doha and he
also challenged other nations to do the same.
He presented a very ambitious agenda to
eliminate trade barriers in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing
and services, with a special emphasis on enhancing trade for developing
countries and the world's poor.
I believe what we have been talking about in
these meetings is entirely within the spirit of the President’s comments. And I believe that the comments that the
President has made will help with regard to movement with
well. We certainly stand ready to
work hard to achieve those ambitious undertakings that the President talked
about, through consensus building among various WTO
Commissioner Mandelson and I discussed the expectations for the
meeting and the work that needed to be done over the next few months, which is
substantial. This includes market access, it includes supports to three major
areas – agriculture, services, and non-agricultural market access, as well as
trade facilitation, development and other issues – all this is necessary to
bring this Round to a successful conclusion by the end of 2006, which has been
and continues to be our goal.
We agreed between ourselves to remain very
personally involved in this. I know
Commission Mandelson has been and will be, and I certainly have been and will be
as well. We have set ourselves out
a very ambitious agenda with meetings with other WTO Members, additional
discussions between ourselves to be sure that we are indeed moving the talks
forward and undertaking the responsibilities that we feel. We understand our responsibilities as
two great trading partners and as important players in the global economy. But we also understand that other WTO
Members need to be brought on board; that they too have a responsibility and
must contribute to the process and that we need to seek their input as we move
In agriculture, we confirmed that we’ll build
on the July 2004 Framework Agreement, and noted the G20’s proposals on market
access, which we believed provides a good starting point to develop an approach
on market access. I think we made
progress in that regard.
We had a frank and constructive exchange on
how to build on that proposal to achieve real market access. We will now redouble our efforts to
reach out to other countries, as I said.
In fact, I am sending USTR agriculture negotiators to
to follow up on the discussions we’ve had over the last 18
As you know, market access is the area where
there has been the least progress in establishing a framework in the agriculture
talks. And I think we made some
progress, again in establishing that framework, and that’s very important
because this is where we see the most potential economic gains. In fact, the World Bank has studied this
and indicated that 92% of the gains from the developing world in agriculture
will come from enhanced market access.
We also had a detailed and very candid
discussion on the other two pillars of agriculture reform – export subsidies and
In terms of manufactured products and NAMA
discussions, we discussed the need to create substantial new market openings,
particularly in emerging markets, as an essential contribution to
I will work with other interested WTO Members
to now refine the approaches to the tariff cutting formula that Commissioner
Mandelson and I spoke about today, and also to further define sectoral
In services, we also found common ground and
discussed the critical contribution to development for new openings in service
markets. We discussed moving forward on the
Services Working Plan. Commissioner
Mandelson had some excellent proposals in this regard. To be sure that we make substantial
progress in services, as we hope to in manufactured products and
agriculture. We are setting a high
level of ambition in the services area as well. Again, noting that there are meaningful
benefits here for developing countries, particularly the least developed.
In conclusion, I would just say we had a very
frank and constructive discussion.
It was very helpful to me. I
think it was helpful to both of our teams to sit down and talk through these
issues. And I think we made
substantial progress in being sure that over the next three months we can
maximize our efforts toward a successful meeting in
We recognize our responsibility. These negotiations will require us all
to do our part, but we also can’t do it alone.
We will continue our intensive consultations
with our counterparts throughout the WTO.
For both of us, I know, that continues this week and next and on to
With that, Peter.
MANDELSON: Rob, thank you very much. Let me just make one or two comments as
a post script to what Rob has said because I entirely endorse everything that he
said. And let me also welcome the
attention that President Bush has given to the Doha Round in his address to the
United Nations General Assembly. I
strongly endorse the spirit of his remarks and I think it’s important that
somebody like the President should give this amount of attention to the Round in
his remarks. I know that in their
own contributions, Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the
European Commission will be addressing the same issues and reflecting very much
the same strength of commitment, as will the UK Presidency of the European Union
in the person of the Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose personal commitment is, I
I strongly believe,
as I said in my remarks yesterday that the European Union and the
States need to offer joint political leadership in
the WTO and on this Doha Round.
This collaboration is a necessary, albeit insufficient condition for
final agreement at the conclusion of the Round. We have a crucial role. The success of the round is a
Europe might have the most open markets in the
world to developing countries, but we have enduring barriers and policies that
we still need to work on. And we
need to do so in the context of these multilateral talks.
Those in the United
States who believe that America needs allies for the great tasks it has to
fulfill in the world should recognize that Doha is a key test of our renewed
ability to work together for the world’s good. I don’t underestimate the constraints
imposed by domestic politics on both sides of the Atlantic, but we do have a wide range of joint
interests, the two of us, in this round.
At the end of the day, we are two very large continental players with
different, but similar economic structures and specializations. We should not be in the business, of
course we shouldn’t pre-cooking and trying to impose outcomes on the rest of the
WTO membership. We wouldn’t attempt
to do so, and if we did we would get nowhere.
But it is essential
that we work to build common or coordinated policy platforms. If we cannot agree on basic approaches,
the two of us, then there’s little or no hope of the WTO’s membership as a whole
of reaching agreement and taking things forward. It’s as simple as
So then, for
example, in addition to agriculture where we’re seeking substantial additional
market access, the winding down of subsidies and policies operating without
trade distorting effects, we also need to agree on the broad basis on which we
seek a world-wide reduction in industrial tariffs.
We need to agree on
the means by which we can inject new momentum into the negotiations in the vital
area of services. And we need to
identify the changes, the acceptable changes, that we can make to discipline the
abuse of trade defense instruments and the tightening of other rules.
Now, in these and
many other areas, I would say that Rob and I have had not only good discussions,
but the best exchanges we’ve had since both of us came into our respective
roles. The rest of the world is
looking to us to break through the bottlenecks, the stalemates so that we can
move in this Round as a whole from stand-off to trade-off so that we can get the
deals that we need to put into place, without which we will not have a
successful and ambitious outcome of the Doha Round.
What progress did you make on agricultural market
Well, again that was more yesterday because that’s when our agricultural
counterparts were with us, although we did discuss it again today as well. Secretary Johanns was here, as I said,
Marianne Fischer Boels was also here, the Commissioner for Agriculture, and we
had the opportunity really for the first time for the four of us to be
together. This was significant in
my view because it enabled me to hear directly from Commissioner Fischer Boel
about the specific concerns and constraints in Europe on market access. At the same time, Peter was able to hear
directly from Secretary Johanns about some of our concerns here on this side of
the Atlantic with regard to agriculture.
On market access, to
answer your question, I think we made progress in two regards. One, by focusing on a particular
structure of how to achieve reductions in tariffs, and that’s the G20
proposal. It’s not perfect from our
point of view, you should know. Nor
is it from the EU point of view.
But, it does provide a basis for discussion and this is the first time
that we have had the opportunity together with our agriculture counterparts to
go over in detail how we might be able to break through on market access, what
we would require. We also
established a timeframe for us to get further information on that and to come
together again. So, I thought it
was very helpful in terms of market access.
Second, you didn’t
ask about it, but I’ll talk about it, is on the area of subsidies. First export subsidies, as you know,
we’ve already agreed to have the elimination of export subsidies. We talked about the timing on that. That’s very important to us. And then with regard to domestic support
and domestic subsidies, we had a very frank exchange on that as well. We were in a tough position here timing
wise, and our farm bill doesn’t come up until after we hope the WTO is
completed. This Doha Round is meant
to be completed at the end of 2006.
Our farm bill expires in 2007.
But, per the President’s strong setting forth of a vision today at the UN
and in the spirit of that, we are working very closely with the EU and other WTO
trading partners to ensure that we make progress in all areas. And from our point of view, if we can
see substantial progress on market access, where we have real concerns,
particular with the EU but also with other countries that have relatively high
tariffs or other barriers to our trade, if we can see that other countries that
subsidize more than we do, including Japan and the EU with a relatively high
levels subsidy compared to us, also makes progress, we are certainly willing to
do our part. So, we had frank
discussion about both those issues, not (inaudible). I’d like to hear Peter’s
MANDELSON: I broadly endorse everything that Rob has
said. I mean, I think Pascal Lamy,
the new Director General of the WTO got it right in his public remarks
yesterday. We need to move now
swiftly to putting in place the parameters for change in subsidies and domestic
support. And likewise, we need to
do the same in respect to market access, which we need substantially to increase
in line with the framework agreement put in place in
Geneva last year. Now, that means that we both got a lot
of homework to do. And I think that
homework is being done. We are
clearing a lot of ground in preparation for those parameters to emerge and
frankly I’m encouraged by the work that’s going on. And I’m encouraged by the discussion
that we’ve had. Not that there’s
going to be as simple or straightforward in reaching an agreement in any of
these matters in agriculture. They
are complex. They are technically
challenging. And to think that you
can wave a magic wand and have all these changes just fall into place over night
is of course ridiculous.
But, it’s very
important that world leaders, heads of government, President Bush, European
leaders maintain that pressure and maintain that level of ambition and stand
over us with a whip to keep us working hard and going in the right
direction. And that’s why I so
strongly welcome President Bush’s remarks in New York this week, but those of other world leaders
which will join in expressing exactly the same sentiments. We need that pressure. We need that whip to force people to
find a common ground, reach the accommodation, and make the compromises, and
show the courage that this involves if we are going to make the strides forward
to implement that original Doha mandate to which we are working.
To follow up, (inaudible) timeframe (inaudible)…
As I was saying that, I was thinking I thought you might in a follow-up
and hoped you wouldn’t. We didn’t
set out a specific day, but we did set out a very ambitious timeframe to get
back together and to continue working on this. As I said, we’re sending a team to
Geneva today meeting with their EU counterparts and
others. And we will continue to
have meetings, not over the next months, but over the next days and
(inaudible) I was just wondering if you could lay out the process for us
a little bit more. I mean there’s
an effort for the US and the EU to come together on this, come
together at least on agriculture, does this mean that there’s (inaudible)
general membership. I mean is that
the plan? To ensure
Well, I’ve lost count of the number to trade ministers in other countries
who have been telling myself and Rob Portman, the EU and the
US, to iron out their differences and break
through the stalemate in all these areas.
But equally, our reaching an understanding, difficult as that will be
will not be the end of the story.
We really are not in the business of creating tablets of stone and then
passing them down to a grateful WTO membership. If those days ever existed, they’ve long
Peter’s been at this a little longer than I have…
Two months. Three
But the memory of Cancun is still fresh for me. And part of the story there was, there
was not the adequate outreach and the consultation with other WTO members. So I whole-heartily endorse what Peter
had said. One, we need to work hard
on our differences as two of the major economies in the world with some tough
issues to resolve on agriculture.
But second, we will not be coming up with an EU-US agreement that will
then be hoisted upon the rest of the Membership. We are working hard with other
countries. You mentioned a
couple. There are other countries
as well. Today, I will be meeting
with the Minister of Trade from Kenya for instance. Later this week, I’ll be talking with
other trade ministers from Asia.
And I know Peter and I will have the opportunity to do a lot of
consulting over the next, again, days and weeks. So this is not something where we can,
as the EU and the US have unsuccessfully tried in the past, come
up with an agreement for everyone.
But, we do have substantial problems to work out between ourselves and
we’re on a track to do that.
I’m wondering if you could discuss the bilateral part of the discussion
for a moment. One of the
outstanding issues is bananas. And
I’m wondering if a statement you made earlier this week, how important is it to
the United States that the EU move to a tariff-only system on January 1, and did
you discuss this at this meeting?
We did not discuss it at any length. I did have brief conversation with Peter
regarding the banana issue. To be
frank with you, I’m perhaps too close to this issue having followed very closely
over the years. Being from
Cincinnati, Ohio, where the headquarters are for one of the
large, I guess the largest banana exporting company, so the
US does have an interest in this. There are jobs connected to it, there’s
investment connected to it. But, my
concern is broader than that. It’s
that the countries of Latin America, Central America and South America have a strong and, as I heard this week from
the Panamanian Trade Minister, adamant position on this. And I worry about its impact on
Doha, and I know Peter shares that. So we are trying to be constructive to
work through this. We believe that
the commitment that we receive from the EU, as part of a group, including the
Latin American countries several years ago, can be and will be met. And we would encourage that that level
be set to indicate the tariff level at a reasonable level. So I think it’s an important issue that
goes beyond the US interests. I think it’s one where we all would like
to see it resolved and keep it from being an issue that keeps us from making the
progress we’d like to make on a multilateral context.
I’m wondering with all (inaudible) tariff-only that (inaudible). What
sense are you (inaudible) to the tariff-only system. And my question is how important is that
tariff-only system going to effect (inaudible) from the
I think we want to work with the producers and with the EU on this. And not to spend too much time on
bananas, unless we slip on a peel or something, but…
I was wondering how you would work that in.
PORTMAN: Yes, I was trying. There is a WTO decision here. So I guess, it’s our view, and I think
Peter would share this, it should be consistent with the WTO guidelines.
One last question.
You mentioned that you made progress on market access. Have you agreed on how that G20 market
access code should be changed to satisfy all partners?
No, we are working on it.
But, what we come up with has to remain on that middle ground. It has to remain faithful to the G20
framework and it must deliver substantial additional market access. On that I am clear. And we have further homework to do on
that. We will do it. We will discuss it, not only with our
US friends, but with others. But, there’s no retreating from the
commitments we’ve made. We have to,
all of us have to understand and accept that there’s no way back from the
commitments we’ve made. They must
be properly expressed in the detailed legalities, formula arrangements, whatever
flexibilities they involve. We must
stand by what we’ve said we will do.
Neena’s giving us one more question.
Commission, in the testimony…
Where are you from?
France Press. Given the (inaudible) how can the EU
(inaudible), how confident are you of selling whatever deal you get on
(inaudible) to France, (inaudible)?
Well, we have a mandate to use the reforms that have been agreed, that
are underway, which we’re now consolidating. Which as we know, are not indefinitely
the last word in reform, but for the time being are the reforms that we have in
place. And to apply those, to use
those, in order to implement fully the Doha mandate that we have been given. Now all the EU’s member states are
signed up to those Doha objectives, to that mandate, and therefore
they accept. But on the basis of
the reforms that are underway, we will follow through and faithfully standby and
implement the goals we originally signed onto. If that means taking to the farthest
extremity, the envelope that I have been given by the reforms that have been
agreed, then I will have no hesitation in going to that farthest extremity. But it will be on the basis of the
reforms that are underway.
Can I answer that question?
Totally presumptuous of me, of course, to comment of European politics
You can (inaudible) the 25 member states, I’ll be happy to do
I’ll send you to Congress.
MANDELSON: No, thank you.
Two thoughts. One is
Commissioner Mandelson is an effective advocate of his point of view. And I’m sure the member states realize
that. But these are, as I said
earlier, constructive but also very candid discussions and we’re at the point
now where we are understanding each other’s position much better because we are
providing each other with very detailed explanations of the commercial impact of
these decisions. And he does a good
job at that.
The second is from a
member-state point of view, and from a
US point of view, we have to keep our eye on
the ball. And our discussions today
have focused not just on agriculture where we do have some differences, but
where both of us are committed to market access and reducing trade distorting
subsidies, but it’s also focused on the tremendous gains to the global economy,
but also frankly to our economies of having more access for manufactured
products, for services where we each have a comparative advantage and where we
can provide real aid to developing countries lowering their cost, increasing
people’s standard of living. And
this is something that all parties need to keep focused on, including the member
states and including Members of Congress and those in this country who are
following this. If we get stuck on
specific issues and can’t make progress and therefore the round goes down, we
will have missed a tremendous opportunity to improve economic growth in our own
countries, as well as alleviate global poverty.
This is one of those
rare opportunities that doesn’t come around often where we have the chance to
make a real difference in the lives of people in our countries, but also around
the world and so we have to keep that in mind. There are going to be pluses and minuses
in various areas, but at the end of the day, this is something, that if
successful will have a net benefit to our countries and to the global
Great. Thank you very