US says it will move on domestic subsidies

July 21st, 2008 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  


Geneva, July 21 (IANS) The US will move on its domestic subsidies that distort global trade on agriculture in order to ensure a successful outcome of the Doha Development Round this year, the country’s trade representative said Monday. “We know that we have a contribution to make when it comes to our trade distorting domestic subsidies. We will make that contribution, we know that we have a leadership role to play in this round,” Susan Schwab told reporters at the World Trade Organization here.

The US representative is among key negotiators gathered in this Swiss city to hammer out a world trade deal aimed at creating a level playing field for rich and poor countries, generate greater global trade, and promote economic growth among poor countries.

The Doha Round, named after the Qatari capital where it began seven years ago, has been stalled mainly over two demands: developing countries want the US and other rich economies to phase out billions of dollars that are paid out to their agriculture sectors - subsidies that skew world prices.

At the same time, rich countries want developing nations, particularly emerging markets such as India, Brazil and China, to lower their tariffs on manufactured goods.

“We know what the developed countries have to do - carry the greatest burden of this round,” Shwab said.

Shwab said there is a “great desire to see a successful conclusion this year”.

“The US is unalterably committed to the outcome of this round, there is no question about that, cannot be a question about that,” she said, adding Washington would continue to take a leadership role in the negotiations.

“We are willing to do our share. We are willing to make further contributions. We are looking forward to seeing the contributions of others, including the most significant emerging markets.”

Shwab, who arrived here Friday, has held bilateral meetings with negotiators from India, the European Union, China, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

India’s commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath left for New Delhi last week to participate in the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha Monday and Tuesday but is expected back in Geneva later this week.

Diplomats in Geneva say the US’s leadership is crucial to the success of the talks and are pinning their hopes on what they call the “legacy factor” - reports that George W. Bush would like a successful Doha Round to be the main global achievement of his presidency.

However, Shwab stressed that one or two countries alone could not guarantee a successful outcome.

“To have a meaningful outcome of this round, we know we have to secure a meaningful new market access in agriculture, in manufacturing and in services. This is particularly true when it comes to the interests of the developing countries involved and the rapidly emerging countries that are so key to the negotiations in terms of the involvement and contribution that they can make to a successful outcome,” she said.

“I’m here to work. I’m here to get a job done. I’m here to get a successful outcome to the Doha Round,” she added.

Stressing the importance of further market liberalisation, Schwab said “the elimination, reduction of export restrictions on food, as was discussed in the recent G8 outreach meetings, is critical. One country’s act to achieve food security generates food insecurity in most of the rest of the world.”

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