Ag Coalition Letter to President Bush Conveying Doha Concerns

The NCC joined into a coalition of agricultural organizations on a letter to President Bush conveying the group's concerns with the Doha negotiations. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Chambliss also issued a statement on the negotiations.

Published: February 27, 2002
Updated: June 2, 2006

June 1, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

America's farmers and ranchers are extremely concerned about the present situation in the Doha round WTO agricultural negotiations.  U.S. agriculture has strongly supported the Doha round as a means of balancing the global playing field and tackling the many inequities in world agricultural markets.  Reductions in, and limitations on, domestic support for U.S. agriculture are only acceptable if the negotiations yield an important net gain for American farmers and ranchers through commitments on market access and other trade-distorting policies by our trading partners.

Reflecting this understanding, our negotiating team emphasized that the very generous   U.S. offer on domestic support put forward in October 2005 was fully conditioned on achieving the U.S. proposal to increase market access for farmers and ranchers.  At this point in the negotiations, however, it seems clear that other countries have "pocketed" the U.S. offer on domestic support without being prepared to even come close to the U.S. proposal on increasing market access in both developed and developing countries.  Moreover, these countries are pushing U.S. negotiators to make even greater concessions in domestic support. 

Under these circumstances, Mr. President, we believe that it is important to make clear that American agriculture will not support any deeper cuts in domestic support than those already proposed by the administration.  If negotiators are forced to scale back the level of ambition from the U.S. proposal on agricultural market access in order to reach an agreement, the level of ambition in cutting trade-distorting domestic support must be commensurately reduced from the U.S. proposal.

The treatment of “sensitive” products for developed countries and “special” products for developing countries must be limited in order to preserve the market access gains achieved through overall tariff reductions.  The value of any tariff cut proposals will be greatly eroded by extensive exceptions for sensitive and special products.  The need to achieve significant increases in market access in developing, including newly acceded, country markets is especially important because these countries, which account for 81 percent of the world’s population, represent the markets of the future.

Again, we urge you and the U.S. negotiators to insist that any WTO agricultural agreement maintain a high level of ambition and achieve significant and commercially meaningful increases in market access in both developed and developing country markets.  While an agreement short of the U.S. market access proposal is not our objective, any such outcome must result in commitments on domestic support commensurate with this diminished market access result.  We look forward to continuing to work with you and your team to reach an agreement our organizations and the farmers and ranchers we represent will be able to support. 

Sincerely,

American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
American Sugar Alliance
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Milk Producers Federation
USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council
USA Rice Federation
US Canola Association
Wheat Export Trade Education Committee

cc:   Secretary Mike Johanns
Deputy USTR Susan Schwab
Ambassador Richard Crowder
Senate Committee on Agriculture
House Committee on Agriculture

NCC Urges Administration to Protect Production Agriculture Interests by Maintaining Principles in WTO Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           June 2, 2006
Contact:  T. Cotton Nelson  (901) 274-9030 cnelson@cotton.org

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Cotton Council (NCC) joined commodity, farm and dairy organizations in urging the President to remain firmly in support of the U.S. proposal that reductions in domestic support for U.S. agriculture must be met by commensurate gains in market access and reductions in trade-distorting policies by trading partners.

The letter to President Bush, and shared with top officials at USDA, the U.S. Trade Representative and Congressional leaders reminded the Administration that the U.S. offer on domestic supports is generous and always has been presented as contingent on meeting market access objectives. It stated that recent comments by representatives of other countries appear to indicate that the U.S. offer on domestic supports has been “pocketed” and will not be met by acceptable offers on market access.

The groups reminded U.S. negotiators that the agriculture community will not support deeper cuts than already proposed. Further, the groups indicated the U.S. proposal on domestic supports must be scaled back if the proposed gains in market access are not achieved. The groups also cautioned that the treatment of “special” and “sensitive” products must be limited to ensure gains in market access achieved through tariff reductions are not eroded.

NCC Chairman Allen Helms said the NCC was pleased to join other organizations in making clear the “U.S. offer on domestic supports is substantial and must be met by equally meaningful market access commitments.”

The Clarkedale, AR, producer also noted that the groups are encouraging newly acceded members of the WTO, including China, to take a more active role in ensuring that market access commitments by developing countries are commensurate with their emerging importance as the markets of the future.

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Chambliss Hails Strong Market Call by the World's Weighty "Other Half"

WASHINGTON, DC - Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) issued the following statement today after trade ministers attending the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam called for "ambitious modalities" and the need for a "strong market access result" in the Doha Round.  Chambliss agreed with today's APEC statement, saying the 21-member economies of APEC reinforced the need for a multilateral trade agreement that improves the conditions for trade -- not mere cuts on paper.

The U.S. Senate's Ag Chairman said today's APEC statement further underscores the need for the European Union to acknowledge the weight of opinion by the member economies representing nearly half of world trade, world population and more than half the world's GDP.

"The United States has put an ambitious and balanced offer on the table.  To this date, the Europeans have not come forward and met our offer in kind.  In fact, now EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson believes the U.S. needs to sweeten our offer on domestic support in return for a less than adequate market access package," said U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss.

"Let me be clear, the United States offer on domestic support must be calibrated to reflect the market access offers on the table or a final agreement will not pass the U.S. Congress.  Incremental adjustments from the Europeans on a market access offer that already falls far short won't do it.  I remain hopeful, but as Director General Lamy moves forward this month and tries to forge a deal on modalities, I encourage him help bring about a balanced agreement that will reward ambition rather than punish it."

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EDITORS NOTE:

APEC has 21 members - referred to as "Member Economies" - which account for approximately 40% of the world's population, approximately 56% of world GDP and about 48% of world trade. APEC economies have generated nearly 70% of global economic growth in its first 10 years.

APEC's 21 Member Economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People's Republic of China; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Republic of the Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.