ARLINGTON, Virginia — The World Trade Organization will hold its Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference Dec. 10 to 13, 2017, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and 13 other U.S. farm organizations urged the United States to defend the interests of U.S. agriculture. Specifically, the letter describes industry stances on public stockholding and domestic support, while underscoring the importance of an effective dispute settlement mechanism for agriculture.
First addressing attempts to weaken the WTO Agreement on Agriculture by exempting price support programs tied to public stock procurement, the letter said “Market price support is one of the most trade distorting forms of domestic support for agriculture. Relaxing price support disciplines for certain countries could lead to a much more distorted global marketplace.”
The letter pointed out a closely related challenge in the push for new domestic support commitments.
“It is surreal to witness attempts to negotiate new domestic support commitments when so many countries have flagrantly ignored current commitments,” the organizations wrote. “Any domestic support outcome should carefully target the deficiencies in the system that led to such enormous abuses.” The groups also credited Ambassador Lighthizer for addressing this problem through the dispute settlement case against China on its non-compliant price support programs for wheat, corn and rice.
Finally, the farm organizations expressed strong support for the WTO dispute settlement system and its crucial role addressing some of the major challenges in agricultural markets. They pointed to much improved global trade rules for agriculture following the creation of the WTO and negotiation of new free trade agreements. The groups also expressed concern that U.S. actions to block WTO Appellate Body appointments indefinitely could prevent resolution of current cases and discourage new ones that might benefit U.S. agriculture.
The following organizations signed the letter: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Sunflower Association, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Soybean Export Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, USA Rice Federation
Full text of the letter is posted below.
USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and its value for their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit our website at www.uswheat.org.
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