World Trade Organization Talks Include New Ideas for U.S.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy offers an idea for more concessions by the United States that's not well received by at least one farm group. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jun 29, 2006

Trade ministers are hard at work trying to make headway on a World Trade Organization agreement, but one idea floated by the organization's chief isn't being met positively. WTO chief Pascal Lamy has suggested that a proposal by the G20 group of developing countries for a 54% cut in ag import duties and a reduction in U.S. farm subsidy spending to below $20 billion, could be the basis for an agreement, according to a Reuters report.

But Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, has responded saying the idea would "come up with a net economic loss to producers" and won't support the idea.

The U.S. made a significant offer last October to cut trade-distorting farm programs 53% in return for other countries cutting import duties 95%. So far U.S. negotiators have held firm despite comments from the G20 and the European Union that say further cuts are necessary.

The European Union has said the United States has to offer more to get an agreement, but in comments made before the WTO meeting in Geneva this week, Congress and U.S. negotiators have indicated they need market access as part of these agreements. Stallman told Reuters that "we're here because we want real trade, not phony numbers. U.S. agriculture will walk away from a bad deal. Our members say that, Congress says that."