USTR - Statement by Deputy USTR Schwab at the OECD Ministerial Conference Trade Session
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

Statement by Deputy USTR Schwab at the OECD Ministerial Conference Trade Session
Paris 05/24/2006


"Follow-Up to Hong Kong"

As Prepared for Delivery

Today’s session presents an important opportunity to take stock of the Doha Development Agenda at the most critical juncture faced by these negotiations since they were launched in November 2001.

I’m delighted to be here today in my current capacity as Deputy USTR to present the US perspective.

U.S. determination to conclude the negotiations successfully before the end of this year remains as strong as ever. A change in U.S. leadership does not diminish at all our objective: a meaningful and ambitious result.

The guiding core principle of the Doha Development Agenda remains the same: We can only achieve success if the negotiations produce significant, new market opportunities.

History shows us that success will not result from changes about what is "realistic" or "reasonable" ambition. As the co-chairs of the OECD Trade Committee stated in their letter to ministers, the equation for success is simple: to achieve significant improvements from the actual conditions that currently exist in the markets— real results, not just "cuts on paper". That is the standard we are prepared to negotiate and support. We look to everyone to join us in this endeavor.

History also shows that leadership in trade must be exercised in bold, politically courageous moves with concrete proposals to lift the negotiations to a big overall result. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we cannot fail.

The U.S. believes we accomplished this standard last fall with our agriculture proposal– meeting the challenge to put forward something meaningful and real on domestic support. We are still looking for as meaningful and real a response from others – both developed and advanced developing countries – on agricultural market access.

The challenge of leadership within the global trading system is not met by incremental steps, such as "sweeteners" to proposals that already fall far short or by resisting tariff cuts in the name of preserving trade preferences. This is the Doha Development Agenda. Development is not there by accident. There are far better ways to support poor countries without relegating them to niche markets.

To repeat a simple truth: the core of our work is opening markets and creating new economic opportunity for all of us, but particularly for the developing world. According to the World Bank, 63 percent of the benefits to developing countries from full trade liberalization would come in agriculture and 93 percent of those benefits would come in improved market access.

Indeed, for the developing world, most of all, an ambitious result from Doha is necessary. Time is short and we are concerned that we are in a state of limbo because we have not been able to focus on the market access task and have perhaps not been able to emphasize the agricultural, industrial tariffs or services outcomes that are necessary. There are many issues associated with this round and we are very supportive in a variety of negotiating tables but ultimately we need to achieve full modalities sooner rather than later in agriculture, in NAMA and to have a successful outcome in services as well.

Once we have the modalities in place – even so-called "full modalities" – we still have an enormous amount of work to do, such as preparing our line-by-line tariff schedules in agriculture and NAMA. And even that challenging task is only the beginning of the final negotiating process.

So we have a huge challenge facing us in the days ahead. But we can still do it. If real leadership and political will are excercised in these upcoming weeks, we can rapidly be back on a path towards a successful Doha outcome.

For our part, I would simply state that the United States is firmly committed to achieving an ambitious, robust agreement that we all signed on for at Doha and in Hong Kong. We seek real results. We seek impact. We seek new trade flows. These rounds are a once in a generation opportunity. This is a doable proposition. We look forward to getting it done.

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