An American Farm Bureau delegation led by President Bob Stallman will meet Tuesday with World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy on the stalled Doha Round of global trade talks. Farm Bureau trade policy staffer Dave Salmonsen says the group will tell Lamy that the negotiations hinge on market access.
"We like to say put some trade in this potential trade agreement," Salmonsen said. "A lot of the analysis that's been put out shows there is not a lot there. So if we are going to have tariff cuts that mean anything to advance world trade we've got to cut back on all these flexibilities that have crept into the negotiation.”
Like most WTO watchers, Salmonsen sees little willingness on the part of major players in the talks to engage in serious bargaining on trade liberalization until their economies are on a firmer footing.
In addition to meeting with Lamy, the Farm Bureau delegation will also exchange views with WTO negotiators from Brazil, China and India, which according to Salmonsen have to step up in order for the trade round to achieve a successful conclusion.
"They have to be willing to accept some reduced tariffs, do some opening of their markets, really participate as we think they should in this whole endeavor," Salmonsen said. "We think they've been holding back quite a bit, been asking others to do things but not offering too much themselves."
Salmonsen says Farm Bureau will be ready to respond to any suggestion from others that deeper U.S. farm subsidy cuts are needed to kick-start the negotiation.
"We need the safety net we've worked so hard to build," Salmonsen said. "Talking about domestic support changes in the absence of seeing real market access opportunities is just not a discussion we are going to engage in."
While in Geneva, the Farm Bureau contingent also hopes to take advantage of a rare public opportunity to watch the opening session of a WTO dispute settlement proceeding involving Canada’s challenge to the U.S. country-of-origin meat labeling law.