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GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Speaks at a Working Session on Review of WTO Activities, Including the Doha Work Program

ARK and Rohde at Working Session
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilaterial Affairs Matt Rohde confer during a working session of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ambassador Kirk recently spoke at the first Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. The Working Session focused on a review of WTO activities, including the DOHA Work Program. Read Ambassador Kirk's remarks below.

"The WTO's activities have improved lives throughout the world, contributed to global growth and development, and provided a strong bulwark against protectionism in troubled times. The WTOs ongoing work has the potential to generate further economic growth and development that can lift millions out of poverty.

These important goals are being fulfilled through the Doha Work Program, the day-to-day activities of the WTO's more than 20 standing committees, the organizations contributions to work on Aid for Trade, and by the integration of new Members into the rules-based multilateral trading system.

We are pleased that the negotiating groups established under the Doha Work Program have re-energized their multilateral work this fall.

But to close the remaining gaps in agriculture, NAMA, and services particularly with regard to the market access commitments by the most advanced developing countries this multilateral work needs to be supplemented by sustained direct bilateral engagement, as called for by G-20 leaders.

There is no secret to how we will achieve an ambitious and balanced result in each of these core areas. The United States has been clear that we will need to achieve meaningful market opening that will result in significant new trade flows, particularly in the worlds fastest-growing economies.

Little is being asked of developing country Members in terms of new commitments in the Round. But the gains in terms of economic growth, employment and prosperity stand to benefit all of us if trade is expanded in the years ahead in rapidly emerging global markets.

The more progress that can be made in advancing toward a final package in agriculture, NAMA, and in services, the more momentum we will be providing to the broader multilateral work.

The WTO's work on trade facilitation will simplify and modernize customs procedures, enhancing trading opportunities, improve the investment climate and help better integrate developing countries, particularly LDCs, into global supply networks.

With respect to LDCs, the United States stands by our commitment at Hong Kong to provide duty-free and quota-free market access to least-developed countries as part of the implementation of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round. This will complement ongoing U.S. efforts to foster the further integration of LDCs into the multilateral trading system.

The WTO is also advancing the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services, and we fully support fast-tracking action in the WTO's work on liberalizing trade in climate-friendly technologies.

We also support the WTO's work on strengthening rules on fisheries subsidies, which can effectively put a stop to overcapacity and overfishing.

In addition to the important WTO work being done to conclude the Doha Round, it is universally recognized that eliminating tariffs alone is not sufficient to foster development. Assistance is needed to help build productive capacity in developing countries.

The United States is committed to providing substantial, effective grant Aid for Trade in response to priorities identified by beneficiary countries themselves.

U.S. trade capacity-building assistance totaled nearly $2.3 billion in FY2008, up 52 percent from FY2007. Since FY1999, U.S. trade capacity building funding has exceeded $10.2 billion.

The United States strongly supports the accession of new Members to the WTO, particularly in the case of the least developed countries. In this connection, we are committed to the effective implementation of the 2002 Decision on LDC Accessions.

Adoption of WTO provisions builds strong rules-based economic institutions that have a long-term positive impact on trade, economic growth and domestic development, and the process of WTO accession helps to facilitate the reforms necessary to economic growth and development.

The efforts of the United States in LDC accessions are centered on helping the applicant lay out its plan to accomplish necessary steps, and to take those steps in conjunction with provided technical assistance.

In all of these activities, the United States looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with WTO Members."