Sunday, December 16, 2018
 U.S. Needs More New Exports for Doha Deal: Vilsack  
By Doug Palmer
The United States cannot support a proposed world trade deal to cut the spending cap on U.S. farm subsidies until developing countries make better offers to open their markets to U.S. farm exports, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has stated.
"What I do know is the administration is very concerned about all aspects of the Doha discussion," Vilsack told Reuters in an interview.
"What the United States is being asked to do has been quite succinctly, and with some degree of specificity, laid out in the framework ... There's less clarity and less predictability in what developing nations are being asked to do in market access," Vilsack said.
The long-running Doha round of world trade talks was launched in November 2001 with the goal of helping poor countries prosper through trade.
Negotiators came close to a deal last year and many countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America are eager to finish the talks based on a set of texts proposed by World Trade Organization negotiating chairmen in December.
But U.S. farm and business groups say those texts require too many politically painful farm subsidy and manufacturing tariff cuts for the United States without enough new export opportunities to make the deal acceptable.
The December text would cap annual U.S. spending on trade-distorting farm subsidies at $14.5 billion, down from $48.2 billion now allowed under existing WTO rules.
Vilsack, who met this week with WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, said it was "impossible" for him to say whether that was an acceptable number until the United States has a concrete idea of what it would gain.
"$14 billion could be a great number if the market access is x. It could be a horrible number if the market access is y." Vilsack said.
The United States also is concerned that many markets around the world remained close to genetically modified crops and other biotechnology products, Vilsack said he told Lamy.
On another topic, the Obama administration is working to address safety concerns that prompted Congress to ban poultry imports from China, Vilsack said.
Beijing has responded to Congress' action by threatening to bring a case at the WTO.
"We're trying to provide as much information about what we have done, and what we think ought to be done, to assure (U.S. lawmakers) that there's a equivalency of safety precautions and so forth taking place in China," Vilsack said.
"This is a trading partner we want to make sure we keep a relationship with," he said.
The Obama administration hopes to strike a deal with European Union to resolve a longstanding dispute over EU barriers to U.S. beef from cattle raised with artificial growth hormones, but those talks are "complex," Vilsack said.

It also is evaluating a dairy industry request to once again subsidize dairy exports, but other action the U.S. Agriculture Department has taken recently to support dairy prices may be enough, Vilsack said.

Source: Reuters

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