Could the latest round of World Trade Organization talks in Geneva end in the same lack of results seen in Hong Kong last December? It's beginning to look that way. In a joint statement issued today by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, the officials maintain what they say are "high hopes for a meaningful and robust outcome to these talks and we are urging other countries to seek the same. The U.S. proposal delivers on the promise of Doha, unfortunately other proposals thus far lack the necessary ambition."
The statement notes the continued aim of gaining market access which they say is "the key that will unlock the negotiations and ambitious reform is essential if this round is to live up to its name as a development round." They note deep tariff cuts are needed to increase trade flows and without the cuts their will be neither income growth nor new opportunities for farmers, especially those in developing countries.
Schwab and Johanns commented on the G20 proposal for deeper subsidy cuts and a limit on U.S. support spending: "There has been a lot of talk about the G20 proposal. It proposes deep cuts in trade-distorting domestic support, but lacks sufficient market access to achieve the goals of this development round. It is also vulnerable to loopholes that will result in less rather than more market access. The U.S. stands ready to roll-up our sleeves and negotiate, but we need a balanced proposal on the table. As yet, none has been offered, but we are not prepared to give up trying to work with our trading partners to develop one."