Engler Statement on WTO Talks Ending

By July 29, 2008Trade

Updated and bumped to the top.

From a statement from NAM President and CEO John Engler:

I regret to say that, despite incredible efforts on the part of U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Assistant to the President Dan Price and the entire U.S. negotiating team, WTO members declined to agree on terms that could have provided greater opportunities for trade of manufactured goods.

Time and again at the Geneva meetings, China and India reiterated how they could not lower their barriers, but insisted we must lower ours. Revealing the sort of negotiation he had in mind, Indian Trade Minister Nath, for example, remarked that cars will no longer be made in Detroit and Düsseldorf but in Asia, a process he seeks to foster by maintaining India’s impenetrable barriers against U.S. cars while having virtually open access to our car markets.

The “Special Safeguard Mechanism” demanded by China and India for their agricultural sectors was the final straw. That mechanism would have violated one of the most basic tenets of the world trading system: nations do not violate their tariff bindings by raising tariffs above the legally-bound levels. Once an exception is made, no matter how small, the entire world trading system could begin to unravel. The Doha Round was supposed to move world trade forward, not backwards.

 It is regrettable that China and India in the end refused to stick with the rules and wishes of the majority of countries. However, we must face the reality of what they did. It is important to note, however, that other developing countries, especially Brazil, made it plain during the Geneva talks that they were prepared to enter into give and take negotiations, and that is a positive development.

For Frank Vargo’s reports from Geneva, please go here.

See also USTR statement, news coverage.

Leave a Reply