Farmer Groups Outline Critical WTO Issues

Meaning market access must not be undercut by allowing countries to designate sensitive products. Compiled by staff

Published on: Mar 1, 2006

Market access must be meaningful and not undercut by sensitive product classifications and developing countries that are export superpowers, such as Brazil, should face similar disciplines as developed countries.

This was the message 16 U.S. agricultural commodity organizations sent in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns emphasizing farmers and ranchers’ top concerns during the current phase of World Trade Organization negotiations.

The groups stated that meaningful market access gains must be achieved for each of their export commodities, and that these gains must not be undercut by allowing countries to designate them as Sensitive Products or Special Products, or through the Special Safeguard Mechanism. Second, the groups asked that developing countries with world-class export sectors face disciplines similar to those required of developed countries.

"We believe the current modalities phase of the negotiations, when the largest overall trade-offs are being negotiated, offers perhaps the best chance of achieving our objectives on these critical issues," the groups say. "Unless these issues are addressed through specific measures in the modalities agreement, we are concerned that it may be impossible to successfully resolve them in the subsequent bilateral phase of negotiations."

The letter explains that reaching a final Doha Round agreement is vital to expanding worldwide trade. "But a final agreement must require developing as well as developed countries to open key markets to U.S. agricultural exports without unfair or wholesale exemptions and restrictions. And it must bring the competitive export sectors of developing countries under disciplines similar to those our producers and industries face," the letter states.

Organizations that signed the letter include: American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Sorghum Producers, U.S. Canola Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Rice Producers Association and Wheat Export Trade Education Committee.