Office of the United States Trade Representative


USTR Round the World Tour Lays Groundwork for Consensus in Doha Talks and Bilateral Relationships

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 domestic support.

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 Round.


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