USTR - Statement from USTR Spokesman Richard Mills on Sutherland Report on the WTO
Office of the United States Trade Representative


Statement from USTR Spokesman Richard Mills on Sutherland Report on the WTO

“We welcome the release of the Sutherland report, and extend our appreciation to former DG Peter Sutherland and his colleagues for producing their report.  It is a serious and constructive review of the WTO after its first ten years of operation and should be the basis for an open discussion with DG Supachai Panitchpakdi and his successor of how, together, we can improve the effectiveness and operation of the WTO.        

“As the report states ardently, opening markets and reducing trade barriers globally offer the world the best hope to expand economic growth, development, and opportunity both for developed and developing countries. 

“We agree.  That is why the United States took a leading role in launching the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in 2001, advancing ambitious goals and proposals, and getting the negotiations back on track in 2004.  We appreciate the strong emphasis that the report places on continued, ambitious multilateral trade liberalization and the DDA. 

“The United States has also urged other key WTO members, both developed and developing, to join us in assuming this mutual responsibility.  All must contribute to expanding market access for all Members.

“Like others, we may take issue with some of the points and recommendations, but we think that it raises the right questions for reflection while making a compelling case for an open trading system based on agreed multilateral rules. 

“The United States especially welcomes the report’s call for greater transparency, particularly in its recommendations to make dispute settlement proceedings public and for greater outreach to the public.  We have long advocated public meetings in dispute settlement.  Keeping the proceedings closed detracts from the credibility of the system.  Similarly, we have long supported ensuring that government officials and others have a good understanding of how the WTO operates, the dispute settlement system, so also welcome the report’s call for efforts to provide officials and the public with a better understanding of the system.

“The report recognizes that many WTO Members are pursuing global liberalization at the same time as they are proceeding with bilateral and regional agreements.  We believe it is important for new agreements -- including those negotiated among developing countries -- to be consistent with the WTO and its principles, so as to promote global trade and openness.  Too many agreements are making large-scale exclusions -- especially in agriculture -- the rule, not the exception.  We welcome a further dialogue on these important issues.  Our own experience with FTAs demonstrates that comprehensive, WTO-consistent FTAs can be effective vehicles for liberalization, economic reform, and economic development.  Our FTA partners have also been among the strongest advocates for an ambitious DDA result.  In addition, many developing countries have gained significantly from the special trade preferences the United States has provided. 

“We will study the report carefully, consult with Congress and other stakeholders, and participate with other Members in discussions that will take place in Geneva in the coming months. 

“Our top priority will continue to be the successful conclusion of the DDA negotiations. U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will be attending the informal meeting of Ministers in Davos later this month to help give the DDA impetus in 2005.  The results of the report certainly compel us to move ahead expeditiously in the negotiations without delay.”

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