In the new round of global trade negotiations starting in 2000 under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, the United States will call for total elimination of agricultural tariffs and subsidies on farm products and exports, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said Thursday.
Calling agriculture a “very important area” for the U.S., Barshefsky told a Tokyo audience that Washington’s goals for the new round are the complete elimination of agricultural export subsidies, elimination of all agricultural tariffs and review of the domestic subsidies and rules concerning agricultural biotechnology.
Barshefsky said the U.S. seeks a “broad-based” round in order to address key priorities of agriculture and services, but criticized the European Union for advocating a completely open agenda that may include any issue that any country wishes to raise.
“We must not fall into the trap of putting in so many issues, whether they are ripe or not ripe for negotiations. … Developing counties (that cannot afford a complex and lengthy round) will walk away from the negotiation,” Barshefsky said at the Tokyo American Center after having wrapped up two-day quadrilateral trade talks in Tokyo Wednesday.
While expressing an optimistic view that the quad trading powers — Japan, the U.S., the EU and Canada — can cooperate to realize China’s WTO entry within the year, Barshefsky also called for continued commitment on the part of China.
Barshefsky also underlined the need Thursday to achieve substantial progress by November in discussing issues taken up at the Quadrilateral Trade Ministers Meeting that ended Wednesday in Tokyo, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Progress in areas of transparency in government procurement and tariffication of electronic commerce should become visible by the time the U.S. hosts a ministerial-level meeting of the World Trade Organization in November in Seattle, the official quoted Barshefsky as saying.
Her remark came during a meeting Thursday with Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura at the Foreign Ministry, a day after trade ministers from Japan, the U.S., the European Union and Canada decided that the next round of WTO negotiations should be broad and cover issues beyond the built-in agenda of services and agriculture.
Komura replied Japan is fully committed to implementing the agreements at the quadrilateral trade talks in order to conclude the next WTO negotiation round successfully, the official said.
On bilateral trade, Barshefsky expressed U.S. concern about Japan’s steel exports to the U.S., saying they have exceeded a “reasonable level.” Komura reiterated such exports have been decreasing since last fall and Tokyo is concerned about “rising protectionism in the U.S. Congress,” the official said.