Allgeier: WTO Ministers Need to Focus on Market Access

U.S. ambassador states there is no U.S. offer on the table and the ball is still in EU's court to make concessions on trade talks.

Pressure continues to build for completion of the World Trade Organization Doha round, which would include an agreement that provides new markets for U.S. farmers in return for reduction of domestic support.

Ambassador to the WTO and Deputy USTR Peter Allgeier reiterated Thursday that contrary to what reports say, "No, there is not a new US offer out to the EU or anyone else." However, the U.S. is hoping for movement at this critical juncture trade talks.

Ministers from 35 countries plan to meet in Geneva next week and again tackle the vast differences that remain between proposals and lay out modalities. Thursday the chairpersons of the negotiating groups on agriculture and on non-agricultural products circulated to members draft texts for their respective negotiating areas.

Allgeier states ministers next week should focus negotiations on market access in agriculture, tariff cuts, thresholds for sensitive and special products, the magnitude of domestic support cuts and what it would mean for amber and blue box payment levels.

He explains if ministers could agree on key areas, such as tariff cuts, it could give people confidence in the following weeks to fill in the more minute details. For instance once major issues are dealt with, issues such as preference erosion, can logically come together from the core of the solution, he states.

Many saw the upcoming meeting as the deadline needed to reach the how and when of an agreement. Although it is no longer being called the final deadline, Allgeier says if modalities aren't laid out soon chances of passage diminish. "We think if we haven't done it by end of July, we don't know how we could get everything done by the end of the year," he says.

New United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab will meet with commodity groups today (Friday) before she leaves for next week's negotiations in Geneva.

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