Doha Round Archives - Shopfloor

Recognizing the Doha Round is Broken

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers who met in Big Sky, Montana, today finally took a hard-nosed look at the state of the World Trade Organization Doha negotiations and admitted that what the United States has been saying for several years: the gaps in expectations for opening new market opportunities around the world are unbridgeable in the current context.  As Ambassador Kirk noted, “we are not in good shape.”  

We welcome this recognition of reality that should help the WTO move forward in a constructive way, rather than continuing to chase its tail in a desperate hope that given enough time the pieces will magically fall into place. 

So the question now becomes what to do with the pieces of Doha that aren’t broken.  We hope that in this period of reflection WTO Members will give serious consideration to moving ahead in concluding negotiations in areas that can garner consensus. One of these issues should be the trade facilitation negotiations aimed at simplifying and speeding procedures for getting goods through customs formalities.

In an age when a large portion of exports are delivered in hours by air rather than weeks or months by sea, the length of time and costs of customs clearance procedures needs to be reduced so components can get to manufacturers and finished products to customers more rapidly. This is not a zero-sum negotiation that involves mercantilist concessions; it is classic win-win. 

Ministers should also give greater consideration to so-called plurilateral agreements that don’t require every WTO country to sign on, such as the Information Technology Agreement. It should be expanded to provide zero-duty treatment for more high-tech products. The existing agreement dating from 1997 has been very successful and reduced costs for manufacturers that rely on information technology products to enhance their competitiveness. There could be other plurilateral agreements that could garner sufficient support–perhaps environmental goods and services.

The WTO is a strong and vital organization and its value should not be assessed on what happens with the Doha negotiations. An organization that deals forthrightly with the situation it faces will be a strong one. 

As is said, the first step to recovery is the recognition that there is a problem.

Stephen Jacobs is senior director of international business policy, National Association of Manufacturers.  

NAM and Business Groups Weigh in on Stalled Doha Talks

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This morning the National Association of Manufacturers joined by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Business Roundtable, Coalition of Services Industries, Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Council for International Business issued a joint statement about the lack of progress in the Doha Round. Over the past few weeks talks in Geneva have stalled. Here is the joint statement issued today:

We deeply regret that the WTO Doha Development Agenda trade round has not yet been able to achieve its intended objective of promoting world economic growth by expanding trade.

Since 2001, the United States and the U.S. manufacturing, services, and agriculture communities have been steadfast in their support for the Doha Round and of efforts by U.S. and other negotiators to try to break the negotiating deadlock by offering constructive alternatives in each negotiating area. We continue to seek an outcome that would open markets around the world, produce new trade flows, grow our economies and sustain and create jobs. But an agreement will not be possible unless all major economies make meaningful contributions.
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On Trade, Manufacturers Agree with Chile’s President

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At a joint news conference with President Obama in Santiago, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera urges the United States (which in this case would mean first the Obama Administration) to enact the pending Free Trade Agreements with Colombia and Panama.

[We] would like to raise our voice to ask for countries like Colombia and Panama also to have free trade agreements with your country and may join in this Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative. It’s going to be a free trade area on both sides of the Pacific Ocean and where we will find the largest free trade market in the world.

Also, we are concerned about the delays and tensions of the Doha Round. I know that the United States is going to make efforts for this to move forward.

And then, on the other hand, I would like to raise to you a much closer collaboration in the field of science, technology, innovation and undertaking, because in modern times free trade has to be not only of goods but of ideas; not only of services but of knowledge; not only of investments but also of technology.

According to Bloomberg’s report from Chile:

The country was the first in South America to sign a free- trade agreement with the U.S. Since it took effect in 2004, Chilean exports to the U.S. increased 44 percent and imports from the North American country nearly tripled, according to Chile’s central bank.

The story is headlined, “Obama Pledges to End U.S.’s Neglect of Latin America’s Dynamic Economies.” Well, that would include Colombia and Panama, wouldn’t it?

Colombia Reports also covers the news, reporting that President Obama, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, fails to mention the pending FTAs in circumstances where the omission really stands out.

What’s Needed for the Doha Round to Move Ahead

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Trying to regain the momentum for the Doha Round of global trade talks, the National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups outlined a set of priorities and strategies in a letter Wednesday to Karel De Gucht, the European Union’s trade commissioner, and U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk.

Reuters covered the story today, “Business groups press emerging economies over Doha“:

BRUSSELS, July 22 (Reuters) – Brazil, China and India must use their growing economic might to help revive deadlocked global trade talks, a coalition of business lobby groups said in a letter to U.S. and European Union trade negotiators.

The letter …is the latest sign that interest is growing in completing the Doha round of talks, which was launched in 2001 to help poor countries prosper through trade but has been stalled since 2008.

The business groups, from Europe or the United States, said the Doha round would progress only if Europe and the United States convince the big emerging economies to reduce tariffs on important industrial sectors and services.

Right. As the letter (available here) stated:

The success of the Doha Round depends on the willingness of the large emerging countries —especially Brazil, China and India—to assume the responsibility commensurate with the economic benefits they have been realizing as a result of global trade and investment liberalization. The large emerging countries now have the fastest growing economies in the G-20, and will clearly be major beneficiaries of the Doha Round. With their new economic power, they are now clearly distinguished from the least developed members of the WTO and, as a result, have a new and greater responsibility to share in leading the Doha Round forward in the NAMA, agriculture and services negotiations. Indeed, most of the significant additional market access available for the least developed countries lies in the reduction of market access barriers to the rapidly emerging economies—which could substantially boost south-south trade.

The NAM was joined by Business Europe, the Business Roundtable, Coalition of Service Industries, European Services Forum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Chris Wenk of the Chamber writes about the letter at the Chamber Post, “Deliverable from Chamber Doha Mission.”

Calling China to Account on the Doha Round

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Back in May, the NAM issued a statement on just-concluded WTO discussions in Paris that commented, “The only way that a balanced Doha Round outcome that benefits all nations – including the United States, but especially including the least developed countries – can be obtained is if U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and his negotiating team make it plain that the United States will settle for nothing less.”

As the G-8/G-20 talks begin in Toronto, we are particularly pleased to see a very senior member of Ambassador Kirk’s negotiating team is making it plain.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke is the U.S. ambassador and America’s top negotiator at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In an interview with Reuters, he quite pointedly blames China for stalling negotiations in the ongoing Doha Round, saying “When it comes to China we’re getting no engagement whatsoever, not even in terms of process.” Read More

Renewed Momentum for Doha? One Can Hope.

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Trade ministers from the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation group have finished their meeting in Sapporo, Japan, with a statement pushing for a conclusion to the Doha Round of WTO negotiations, “Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and Resisting Protectionism.” Excerpt:

We, the APEC Ministers responsible for Trade, gathering for our XVI meeting in Sapporo, Japan, express our strong commitment to the multilateral trading system and our unwavering determination to bring the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.

    (Promoting the Doha Development Agenda)

  1. The strengthened multilateral trading system is a source of economic growth, development and stability. Bearing in mind that further reform and liberalization of trade policies will bolster economic recovery, we reaffirmed our resolve to seek an ambitious, balanced, and prompt conclusion to the DDA, consistent with its mandate, built on the progress achieved, including with regard to modalities.
  2. When the G20 finance ministers meet again in Toronto later this month, they’ll be asked to support the political momentum to speed up negotiations on the stalled Doha talks on global trade. That was the pledge made by a meeting of Asia Pacific trade ministers in Japan at the weekend. The ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum also agreed to outline a plan on possible ways to reach a regional free trade area.

Radio Australia has a good interview with Simon Creen, Australia’s trade minister, on the APEC meeting: Read More

Kirk Stands Ground at Paris Meetings

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President for International Economic Affairs Frank Vargo issued the following trade commentary regarding the Paris meeting of trade ministers this week to discuss the Doha Round:

The only way that a balanced Doha Round outcome that benefits all nations – including the United States, but especially including the least developed countries – can be obtained is if U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and his negotiating team make it plain that the United States will settle for nothing less.  The U.S. has been the primary force for global liberalization in all previous rounds of global trade negotiations, and that role now falls to Ambassador Kirk in the Doha Round. In Paris this week, Ambassador Kirk stood firm, saying “The real question is whether India and Brazil and China are ready to assume a role and responsibility commensurate with their benefits that have been realized under global liberalization…We can talk around it, but that’s the only way this is going to happen.”  The NAM agrees, and believes this is the only way a successful Doha Round is possible.  We appreciate Ambassador Kirk’s clear and determined position, which has led to a growing number of WTO members beginning to support the U.S. view. 

Trade, Export Control Officials Among the Recess Appointments

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President Obama’s decision to make 15 recess appointments contributed to the Administration’s trade agenda by filling several top trade-related spots.

  • Eric L. Hirschhorn: Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce
  • Francisco “Frank” J. Sánchez: Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce
  • Michael Punke: Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative
  • Islam A. Siddiqui: Nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued several news releases welcoming the new USTR appointees:

USTR Kirk Welcomes Deputy USTR Michael Punke“, excerpt:

Michael Punke will be a valuable asset as WTO Ambassador as USTR works to conclude a balanced and ambitious Doha Round of trade negotiations that will benefit American workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers. Michael will also work on behalf of American businesses and entrepreneurs at the WTO – helping USTR to remove trade barriers, increase exports, and support well-paying jobs here at home.

USTR Kirk Welcomes Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui“:

I am proud to officially welcome Isi Siddiqui as USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator. He brings to this office incredible agricultural expertise built over years of work in both the government and private sector, and can be counted on to stand up for American farmers, ranchers, and families in all our negotiations – from the Doha round talks to bilateral discussions. If we want to double American exports in the next five years, we have to seize every opportunity to grow agricultural exports, as well as exports of goods and services. Isi is going to make sure we don’t leave any of those opportunities on the table.

Kirk’s hometown paper, The Dallas Morning News, reported the appointments, “Obama recess appointments include help for trade ambassador Ron Kirk,” citing Kirk’s recent objections to the vacancies made in a recent speech at the National Press Club:

At some point, this begins to strain our credibility and the good will that we have worked so hard to regenerate around the world, because the world believes you don’t care. You don’t have an ambassador in Geneva, how can you be serious about the Doha Round?

The Wall Street Journal reported that Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) had blocked the nominations of Siddiqui and Punke to apply pressure on U.S. trade negotiators to address a dispute over Canada’s handling of Kentucky tobacco.

U.S. Trade in Manufactured Continues to Pick Up

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U.S. trade in manufactured goods continued to improve in January 2010, according to the Commerce Department’s trade data released today. The seasonally-adjusted manufactured goods trade deficit decreased slightly in January compared to December 2008, and stood at -$28 billion, or an annual rate of -$337 billion. That stands in sharp contrast to the peak manufactured goods deficit of $520 billion in mid-2006.

Seasonally-adjusted January data show that U.S. exports of manufactured goods were $80.3 billion, up 16 percent over January 2009. Manufactured goods imports were $108.3 billion, up 6.5 percent from last January.

America’s manufacturers continue to account for about 60 percent of U.S. exports of goods and services, so the recovery in manufactured goods exports is good news for the economy and for future job prospects. While the recovery is taking place at a rapid pace, manufactured goods exports are still nearly 20 percent below their July 2008 peak.

The rate at which exports are now expanding puts us in good shape to launch the effort the President has called for to double U.S. exports in five years. That translates into an ambitious 15 percent a year growth rate, and achievement of the goal will require far-reaching changes in U.S. trade policy to open foreign markets more rapidly – particularly through an ambitious program for bilateral trade promotion agreements. An ambitious Doha Round, additional steps to bolster U.S. competitiveness, and other major steps will be needed as well.


A Tough Year for Doha

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Reuters, “WTO Doha round deal unlikely in 2010“:

US business groups said on Wednesday they expect slow progress in world trade talks in 2010 despite a goal set by President Barack Obama and other leaders to finish the long-running negotiations this year.

“I think it’s going to be difficult to conclude in 2010,” said Frank Vargo, vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. “I think it will probably be next year.”