WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman returned to
Washington after completing a 10 day trip across three continents. During his
travel, he consulted with countries in Europe, Africa and Asia in an effort to
help forge a consensus on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations in
advance of the Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong next month. He also worked to
strengthen bilateral ties in meetings with over 30 nations.
"As we rapidly approach the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong, I believe it is
critical to reach out to as many of our trading partners as possible to develop
a better understanding of each others’ position and identify areas of common
interest," said Ambassador Portman. "The constructive meetings we’ve held over
the last ten days lay the groundwork for building consensus in the Doha
negotiations and in our bilateral relationships."
"The meetings were particularly timely given the upcoming meeting in Hong
Kong of the Doha Development Agenda. No other initiative provides this
opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of so many through worldwide
economic growth and the alleviation of poverty. The world has so much at stake,
and in each meeting I stressed the need for the highest level of ambition to
truly meet the promise of Doha," Portman added.
In the past 10 days, the Ambassador participated in ministerial meetings in
both London and Geneva on the Doha Round. Ministers agreed we must press ahead
for an ambitious result in the Doha Round by the end of 2006, and agreed that
Hong Kong will be an important milestone for progress along the way.
From Europe, Ambassador Portman flew to Africa to meet with the West African
cotton producing countries of Benin, Chad, Mali, Senegal and host country
Burkina Faso. There the Ministers and Officials discussed how we can work
together to support major reform in agriculture through the Doha Round, a matter
of key interest to these nations. The U.S. agriculture proposal is the only one
which calls for the elimination of both export subsidies and trade-distorting
In a visit to New Delhi, the Ambassador launched the inaugural meeting of the
U.S-India Trade Policy Forum with Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal
Nath. He also met with other key leaders in government and the private
sector to discuss the growing and deepening U.S-Indian economic relationship.
Ambassador Portman emphasized the importance of finding common ground in the
Doha negotiations not only in agriculture, but also in non-agricultural market
access (NAMA) and services.
In China, he delivered a keynote speech at a conference hosted by former
President George H.W. Bush on US-China relations and met with business leaders
from around the globe. He also met with his counterpart Chinese Minister of
Commerce Bo XiLai and the former trade minister Shi Guangsheng, who is now
chairman of National People’s Congress Economy and Finance Committee. The
meetings focused on China’s involvement in the Doha Round, US-China trade
relations and President Bush’s trip to China later this week.
At the APEC Summit in Busan, Korea, the fate of Doha was uppermost in
Members’ minds. Under the leadership of Korean Trade Minister Kim, trade
ministers from the 21 APEC economies that represent nearly 50 percent of global
trade stressed their determination to press ahead in the Doha negotiations, in
particular breaking the logjam in agriculture market access. Trade ministers
also discussed unlocking the other areas – manufacturing and services – which
are also of importance to APEC economies.
Tomorrow the Economic Leaders of the APEC economies are expected to adopt the
bold statement recommended by Ministers. APEC’s affirmation of the need for high
ambition in the Doha Round is timely with the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong less
than 30 days away.
APEC has a strong tradition of leadership in the multilateral negotiations –
from calling for the relaunch of the Doha negotiations at Bangkok in 2003, to
moving the negotiations on non-agricultural market access forward by agreeing in
June 2005 that a Swiss-formula would deliver the most ambitious results for all,
and now by coming together to work to unlock the full potential of the Doha