Doha Round Collapse

Virginia Ag Chairman says open markets obligatory for U.S. farmers. Richard Davis 

Published on: Jul 26, 2006

In response to news that the Doha Round talks had collapsed, House Agriculture Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va-6th), says he applauded the decision of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab "to stand firm in negotiations, rather than compromise trade opportunities.

"One of our negotiators biggest challenges in these talks was to reach some sort of compromise on the market access issue, but it appears that our trading partners are unwilling to match our ambitious proposal and thwart any promise of an agreement," Goodlatte says.

"The stagnant situation we find ourselves in today is disappointing; however, it is not surprising given the limited movement we've seen from other World Trade Organization (WTO) members. Trade agreements provide opportunities to break down trade barriers, open markets, and reduce tariffs and whether it be through bilateral or multi-lateral negotiations, we will continue to pursue trade opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers." 

The trade talks in Geneva, Switzerland, were officially suspended July 24. The G6 nations include the U.S., Brazil, the European Union, Australia, Japan and India.

The suspension means a major overhaul of U.S. farm programs that, until the current turn of events was expected for next year, may be delayed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture under Johanns' leadership wants some changes in current federal programs. Many agriculture commodity producers prefer the shape of current farm legislation, however, and have argued for a one-year extension to the current Farm Bill programs. 

Goodlatte notes that U.S. import tariffs average about 12%, compared to the average tariffs of about 62% by our trading partners. "As disappointing as the result may be (the Doha suspension), from the standpoint of America's farmers and ranchers, no deal is better than a bad deal," Goodlatte says. 

In the U.S. Senate, Ag Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) seemed to agree wholeheartedly with Goodlatte's take on the Doha collapse.  

"Farmers are willing to reduce domestic support only if our trading partners lower barriers that ensure new product flows," Chambliss says. "If the Europeans are serious about the negotiations, they will take advantage of this cooling off period and come back with a proposal that significantly reduces tariffs in developed and developing economies. The U.S. will not negotiate with itself in an endless cycle that builds barriers between trading partners.