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Statement by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Michael Punke Regarding Today’s Meeting of Senior Officials in Geneva, Switzerland

April 30, 2013


Geneva, Switzerland – Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Michael Punke today issued the following statement with regard to the ongoing meetings of Senior Officials to discuss the future of negotiations toward an agreement at the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO, set for Bali, Indonesia this December. Ambassador Punke is expressing these views of the United States to gathered senior officials throughout today’s meetings, which seek to advance talks toward a “small package” outcome at Bali. 

“At the most recent meeting of the WTO’s Trade Negotiating Committee on April 11, the United States asked that every delegation engage in immediate, intensive consultations with its capital to convey the seriousness of the situation in Geneva with regard to negotiations for a ‘small package’ outcome for the WTO’s 9th Ministerial Meeting to be hosted by our friends from Indonesia, and to explore each Member’s demonstrable readiness to contribute to breaking the current deadlock. We said then that, absent a course correction, the current path of talks would lead directly to failure at Bali. And if Bali fails, it is hard to imagine how Doha can succeed. 

“The aim of our request was to prod the Bali negotiations past the current impasse, and put us on pace with shared forward momentum to advance the text. To serve that goal, in today’s meetings of senior officials the United States is not restating our redlines for the Bali talks, which are as well-known as the redlines of others. Nor will we criticize the quality or seek to dictate the form of others’ flexibilities. We are confident that credible efforts, big or small, will be appreciated by those sincerely interested in progress. 

“Today we are sharing how, in working with our capital, we have identified areas where we can demonstrate additional flexibility in an effort to move discussions forward. 

“No single delegation can solve all of the problems of the trade facilitation negotiations, bridging gaps and ensuring a meaningful agreement in the end. But the United States has done what it asked others to do. Over the last weeks, we have identified three key areas for additional U.S. flexibility: two on which the U.S. has been a proponent; a third in response to a request from certain developing countries, as reflected in their proposals. 

“With regard to trade facilitation, in Section I, we are prepared to offer additional flexibility both in Advance Rulings (Article 3) and in Penalties (Article 6.2) where we are the proponent of specific text. 

“We have also reviewed Section II, and are willing to agree to some of the proposals put forward by the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group on the Early Warning Mechanism, even where these proposals are a stark departure from existing and well-functioning WTO procedures on extending implementation periods. This new flexibility from the United States is a direct response to least-developed country (LDC) concerns on implementation. 

“A number of Members are putting forward their own flexibilities. This is what is needed to secure a Bali outcome: nations with the will to make tough decisions to advance the text. 

“With regard to the agriculture component of these negotiations: the United States agrees with India and other proponents that enhancing food security in developing countries is indeed an important issue for this body to address; indeed, trade-related food security should be a top priority for future WTO work on agriculture. 

“The United States believes that work can and should include examination not only of the role of public stockholding and administered prices in addressing food security concerns, but also how to improve food security through better-functioning markets, including further liberalization in agriculture trade, reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, elimination of export restrictions, improved transparency, and efficient distribution systems. Indeed, these complex and important issues need to be a part of this discussion. 

“Therefore, today we are stating our openness to a work program, to be agreed by Bali, on food security that can examine the full range of trade-related government measures that can contribute to that goal. We look forward to working with India and other Members to discuss such a work program, in order to see addressed important issues associated with food security. We also look forward to further discussion on additional agriculture components for the Bali package, such as the G-20 proposal on tariff rate quota (TRQ) administration on which the United States has already expressed willingness to engage. 

“On development, we have been very engaged in the meetings of the negotiating group, and we are committed to results. This should include a new Monitoring Mechanism that promotes the utilization and effectiveness of special and differential (S&D) provisions (in line with the ‘guiding principles’) and a decision on which of the Cancun 28 agreement-specific proposals can be adopted. This area should be an important component of a Bali package. 

“The past two weeks have been, in our view, some of the most important in the contemporary life of this organization. Members have been called to decide whether we will balance our individual priorities with the advancement of the global trade framework that serves us all. Members have been called to decide whether to contribute to positive outcomes or to stand in the way of any outcome at all. 

“We are hopeful that today will show clearly a choice to work cooperatively toward a successful outcome at Bali that will secure new benefits from trade liberalization, and that will ultimately serve all Members through the revitalization of the WTO’s negotiating function.”