Failure to Reach WTO Agreement Unfortunate

Many say breakdown better than a bad deal.

Published on: Jul 30, 2008

The World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Geneva came to an end Tuesday as countries could not reach agreement on market access. The United States made a significant offer to reduce domestic support levels contingent on an offer of commercially meaningful reductions in tariffs and other barriers from the developing countries, but India and China were not prepared to negotiate improvements in agricultural trade for themselves and other developing countries.

"The American Farm Bureau Federation is disappointed an opportunity to achieve a balanced outcome for trade and market access for agricultural products during the WTO trade negotiations was lost," says AFBF President Bob Stallman. "The negotiations to reduce tariffs have only resulted in increasing levels of exceptions and exemptions, yielding little new market access. These limited gains are in sharp contrast with the ambitious offers on domestic support and export subsidies."

Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., also expressed disappointment in the collapse of negotiations, but said no deal is better than a bad deal.

"Over the last few days, it has become clear that the direction of the Round made it more and more difficult to achieve a successful outcome," Chambliss says. "The United States was willing to make hard choices and absorb some of the pain, but we can not and should not carry the entire burden. Despite the breakdown in the talks, I commend Ambassador Schwab for holding firm and supporting American agriculture in the negotiations."

Stallman also commended U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and the rest of the U.S. delegation for their efforts during the negotiations.