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Statement from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Regarding the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference

December 17, 2011

Geneva, Switzerland – U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued a statement today at the close of the 8th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. At the ministerial event Ambassador Kirk and his fellow ministers from the WTO Members discussed the state of play in the Doha Round of world trade negotiations and adopted the terms of accession to the WTO for Russia, Samoa, and Montenegro. Ministers oversaw the conclusion of a revision of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which will expand opportunities for U.S. goods and services providers in markets around the world. Also this week, the United States announced new initiatives to boost trade and development for least developed country (LDC) Members of the WTO. From Ambassador Kirk:

“The United States applauds the cooperative successes of this 8th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization. We welcome the coming together of Members to conclude the revision of the Government Procurement Agreement and to invite Russia, Samoa, and Montenegro to join the WTO. Of course, congratulations go to those acceding countries as well.

“In the United States’ view, Ministers have also had a positive, honest discussion this week on the Doha Round. Many ministers have agreed with the assessment that we must ‘turn the page’ to solve the Doha impasse. They are willing, as is the United States, to make progress wherever possible on the Doha mandate, based on common efforts. But ministers have emphasized that ‘business as usual’ has not worked, and will not work going forward. Now is the time to craft credible, innovative approaches to the WTO’s work as an institution that liberalizes trade and creates and applies meaningful trade rules.

“This has also been a week with positive focus on least developed country (LDC) Members of the WTO, including through the decisions adopted today. For decades, the United States has been a strong partner to LDCs. We welcome new assistance to these longtime partners of the United States. We want to see these partners have a greater stake in global trade and overcome constraints inhibiting faster progress. This is why the United States is one of the largest single-country providers of trade-related technical assistance, and why we announced this week new initiatives to boost trade and investment among LDCs, particularly Africa’s cotton-producing countries. We will continue to pursue new trade initiatives in close cooperation with our LDC partners.

“The United States will continue to be in the business of opening markets around the world, through all the avenues we can. President Obama is committed to supporting American jobs and global recovery through increased trade. And, because this global trading system only works when all partners play by the rules, the United States will continue to use dialogue when possible and WTO dispute settlement when necessary to insist that markets remain open according to WTO commitments.

“At the close of this 8th Ministerial, WTO Members have much to be pleased about, and much work still to do. This institution, a bulwark of the rules-based trading system, is strong. The United States looks forward to working with partners old and new to strengthen and energize the WTO in 2012 and beyond.“

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