WASHINGTON - The United States today submitted a paper to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Negotiating Group on Rules highlighting the need to preserve and improve the effectiveness of global trade rules to deal with market-distorting trade practices still prevalent throughout the world. These discussions are occurring within the framework of the Doha Development Agenda, the current WTO trade negotiations.
The United States also submitted a second document regarding the steel sector, which was previously submitted to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as part of the Administration's ongoing multilateral efforts to address global steel market distortions.
"Global trade rules that prevent market-distorting practices are an essential element of a sustainable world trading system, and the United States has used and will continue to use appropriate mechanisms to ensure fair treatment for U.S. interests. Trade rule mechanisms like anti-dumping actions are increasingly being used against American exports, unfortunately in some cases without the most basic due process protections," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "We succeeded last year as part of the Doha negotiations in leading a WTO consensus that the 'basic concepts, principles and effectiveness' of trade rules and their instruments and objectives must be preserved while they are 'clarified and improved.' This is the goal, and our paper today outlines topics for continued discussion as we move forward in negotiations to improve and strengthen global trade remedy rules, particularly focusing on the underlying practices that distort the market."
"We are committed to maintaining the strength and effectiveness of the trade remedy laws and to ensuring that all WTO Members have confidence in the WTO dispute settlement system," stated Commerce Secretary Don Evans. "These negotiations also need to address subsidies and other market-distorting practices, which are the root causes of unfair trade. We are aggressively pursuing this in the ongoing steel talks at the OECD, and we believe this should also be an essential part of the work in the WTO Rules negotiations to benefit a wide range of industries."
The negotiations are centered around anti-dumping and subsidy/countervailing duty rules. The WTO allows importing countries to impose antidumping duties where an imported product is sold at less than the price for the same product in the exporter's home market, thereby injuring a domestic industry. Similarly, the WTO allows importing countries to impose countervailing duties to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments to benefit imported goods that injure a domestic industry.
The U.S. rules paper, which will be presented to the WTO Rules Negotiating Group this week in Geneva, Switzerland, sets out four core principles which will guide the United States in the negotiations:
(1) maintain the strength and effectiveness of the trade remedy laws;
(2) ensure that the trade remedy laws operate in an open and transparent manner;
(3) enhance the rules to address more effectively underlying trade-distorting practices;
(4) emphasize that, in disputes on trade remedy laws, dispute bodies follow the appropriate standard of review and do not impose obligations not contained in the Agreements.
The WTO negotiations were launched in Doha in November 2001, and must be completed by the deadline of January 1, 2005. Under the Doha agreement, WTO rules negotiations are now in an initial phase in which participants are identifying the issues that they will seek to address in the second phase of the negotiations, rather than making specific negotiating proposals. At Doha, the U.S. insisted on and obtained a mandate under which the effectiveness of existing trade remedy rules would be preserved, while negotiations would seek to address the trade-distorting practices that often lead to unfair trade.
The U.S. paper is the first submission in the WTO Rules Group that comprehensively addresses the basic concepts and principles of the trade remedy rules against unfair trade, and it is the first to address the importance of tackling the trade-distorting practices that are frequently the root causes of unfair trade. The U.S. has separately submitted to the Rules Group a paper presenting a number of ideas and recommendations for addressing trade- and market-distorting practices in the steel sector.
The U.S. paper also highlights the importance of strengthening transparency and due process in the application of trade remedies. There has been a dramatic increase in the use of trade remedies by many WTO Members who do not have well-established standards of transparency and due process. Given that U.S. exporters are frequent targets of foreign antidumping cases, increasingly from developing countries, strengthening these rules will help ensure that U.S. exporters are treated fairly.
Throughout the year, United States leadership has continued to spur momentum on the Doha Development Agenda in the WTO:
- In June, the United States proposed a framework for easing WTO rules to allow poor countries to gain greater access to drugs needed to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other public health crises.
- On July 1, the United States announced proposals for liberalizing global trade in services, designed to remove foreign barriers in areas such as financial services, telecommunications, and environmental services.
- On July 25, the United States became the first WTO member to put forward a comprehensive agricultural trade reform proposal, calling for elimination of export subsidies, cuts of $100 billion in annual allowed global trade-distorting domestic subsidies, and lowering average allowed global tariffs from 62% to 15%. The United States is the only WTO member with a proposal that calls for reductions in its own farm program.
- On August 9, the United States submitted a proposal to expand transparency and public access to World Trade Organization dispute settlement proceedings. The proposal would open WTO dispute settlement proceedings to the public for the first time and give greater public access to briefs and panel reports.
The papers submitted by the United States are available at www.ita.doc.gov and by clicking here.