World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy met with leading commodity groups Monday to hear concerns about the current round of trade negotiations. Leaders continued to emphasize that the groups feel the U.S. proposal to the WTO was significant and that U.S. agriculture is concerned that the talks are not producing the market access concessions called for by the United States.
National Corn Growers Association Chairman Leon Corzine says, "Our support for a 60% reduction in amber box programs is contingent on market access. Without that, we cannot support the proposed cuts. Our message to the Director-General was that market access is not important, it is essential to the success of the talks.â€
Agriculture negotiators have been under considerable pressure to cut more than 60% in amber box subsidies, which was offered in the U.S. proposal in October 2005. The proposed 60% cut would lower the ceiling for U.S. amber box subsidies from $19.1 billion to $7.6 billion.
Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab stated that the existing offer in the agriculture negotiations of the Doha Round is conditional and could be improved or scaled back depending on trading partners' willingness to make new concessions.
Schwab made it clear that trading partners would have to improve their market access offers for a successful outcome of the Doha Round. She emphasized that their current proposals are not offering enough to justify keeping the U.S. offer on the table.
This week U.S. agriculture negotiators are in Geneva continuing discussions on the deadline in addition to a compromise text due for release sometime the week of June 19. WTO ministers are scheduled to meet on June 26 to discuss moving forward on an agreement by the end-of-June deadline.