Ambassador Portman: Thank you all very much for coming by. I know some of you
have already spoken with other participants in the meeting today.
We had a very good meeting with the G4 countries -- India, the EU, Brazil,
but also Japan was here today, Pascal Lamy was asked to come to the meeting to
give us an update of his process which he did. Building consensus among the
countries which represent very different constituencies is hard work, but we
made some progress today and we're making progress because I do believe that
each country represented is committed to a successful Doha Round.
As you know, later this week Director General Lamy is likely to issue his
draft declaration. That will be based, I'm told, in large part on the Chairs
reports that are already coming out. In fact I just saw the one on agriculture.
I haven't read it yet, but I saw it. Some of you probably already have the NAMA
or ag or other committee reports.
We're studying them carefully in preparation for the continued negotiations
that will go on here in Geneva prior to next week's General Council meeting. We
intend to use our remaining time between now and Hong Kong as productively as
possible. We want Hong Kong to be more than just a simple stock-taking exercise.
Stock-taking is important and there is an educational process that needs to go
on and I think that is an important aspect of Hong Kong, but we would like to go
further. We'd like to be sure that Hong Kong provides the necessary guidance for
our negotiators to complete the work in 2006.
Hong Kong is, in my view, a very important gathering. It does create the road
map for negotiations in 2006 and we want to be sure there is as much specificity
as possible to achieve the ambitious results that we've talked about in this
Incidentally, today nobody -- nobody in the group today suggested that we
lower our ambitions which I thought was a good sign.
In particular we hope to use Hong Kong to give more structure to the
negotiations on all three pillars of agriculture; on market access and NAMA,
that is non-agricultural market access, industrial tariffs, as well as services
to give further direction to the text-based negotiations in such areas as trade
facilitation, and to give further shape to the development dimension of our
work. So that is the goal of this G4 plus Japan group. Again, we are hopeful
that through our meeting today and the work that our senior officials will do
over the week and then a meeting that we hope to have next week, we'll be able
to make additional progress.
While again we do have different approaches to the issues, we are also
committed to trying to bridge our differences, just like we've tried to
The United States will continue to be very active on this front. As you know
I've been doing a lot of consulting, a lot of meeting. My scheduler tells me
that in my first six months I have now met individually with Ministers
representing more than 40 countries. As you know, because many of you have
followed me there, I've attended many meetings both here and around the globe.
In fact, I just got back from an APEC meeting where a couple of you were
present, I think, which occurred in Korea. In fact I just returned from an
around the world tour that ended up in Korea. I started in London, then went to
Geneva, then Africa, then India, then China which is the reason that my voice is
barely with me today. But it was a very interesting trip because I was able to
promote an ambitious Doha result and to get a lot of good input from
representatives in all those countries that I visited about their views on what
Hong Kong ought to be and then what the result ought to be in the Doha
During this tour across three continents I urged everyone I was with
including government officials, but also business leaders, other stakeholders,
to intensify their efforts and to step up their involvement because I think we
need everyone's contributions to reach a successful agreement in the Doha
Some of you have seen some of the press from Asia where I actually encouraged
APEC countries to become even more involved in this process, including
The APEC meeting, as you know, produced a very strong statement on Doha,
encouraging us to keep ambition high, meaning in all categories, to be sure that
we have strong, not just tariff reductions, but in the area of services, to be
sure that there is real new market access, to be sure that with regard to trade
distorting subsidies which we've talked about a lot in this room, that we
actually come to a result that enables the United States, the European Union,
Japan and others to be able to reduce trade distorting domestic support. We
talked a lot about export subsidies in APEC. In fact APEC recommended an end
date of 2010 for all export subsidies which was very encouraging.
APEC also issued a strong statement, as you may have seen, that there's a
need for more movement on market access in agriculture. Again, this is
significant because these 21 countries are very diverse economies representing
not just Asia but also of course the United States, Canada, and countries in
Latin America. But together they represent about half of the trade and about 60
percent of the GDP in the world. And to have all these countries coming together
and making these strong statements, many of which were followed on by even
stronger statements by the individual heads of state or Ministers, was very
One thing I found interesting was that the G10 was represented there by Korea
and Japan, and yet there was a very strong statement on agriculture.
This week I am back here in Geneva again because we are committed to solving
problems and facilitating an agreement. Again, this will take some time but
we're willing to invest the necessary time and resources to ensure that Doha is
successful for the simple reason that it's so important. It's important to our
economy in the United States. More important, frankly, is that we think the
successful conclusion of Doha is the single most important element to increasing
global economic growth. We can think of nothing that is more important to the
global economy than reducing barriers to trade.
Finally, we think the development aspects are absolutely crucial. In order to
lift literally hundreds of millions of people out of poverty we must figure out
ways to reduce barriers to trade and improve economic growth. This is something
that the United States feels passionately about, in part because our President
feels passionately about it. And as you probably saw in his statements in Korea
at the APEC meeting, he has not backed off his insistence that we keep our
ambitions high. He reiterated the U.S. proposal which is to substantially reduce
trade distorting support and tariffs, increasing market access across the board,
and the eventual elimination of all tariffs and all trade distorting support
So again, we had a good meeting today, we made some progress, and we hope to
be able to make even more progress through our senior officials over the week,
and then in another meeting that will take place, I think it will take place
next week here in Geneva.
Questions on today's meeting or any other topics?
Question: Did you talk today about Peter Mandelson's idea of what he referred
to recently as an itemized development package that should be on the table in
Ambassador Portman: We did talk about development. It was one of the issues
we addressed, and as I said, it's one we hope to be able to develop further over
the next week or so, so that in Hong Kong there can be a development
Today we talked about some of the elements to that. Not necessarily an
exhaustive list, but again our senior officials are going to be working together
to try to reach to as close to a consensus as we can. I do think that is one of
the aspects that is being further fleshed out in anticipation of Hong Kong,
which is positive
Question: You said the goal for the Hong Kong conference is to give more
guidance and structure to the negotiations next year. I just wonder if today you
have agreed among the Ministers, have agreed where the draft ministerial
declaration, including the range of figures or numbers, of what Pascal Lamy
called outer parameters, or there should be no figures at all.
Ambassador Portman: That's an excellent question, one that was not answered
today and I don't know that it will be answered before Pascal Lamy has a chance
to see all the committee reports.
I noticed in the agriculture committee draft, which again I haven't looked at
carefully but I perused quickly, there were some numbers in some areas. In other
areas there were not numbers, but rather in the text there was a range.
So I think it will depend a lot on the information he gets, the raw material
he gets, and his sense of where the membership is.
We did talk about numbers today, of course. We always try to get into the
numbers discussion but we did not reach a consensus among our group. But I think
the question specifically about the declaration will depend on what raw material
the Director General has to work with. I would suggest you ask him, too.
Question: A quick follow-up. At the draft, exactly on domestic support you
have a range of figures, but market access you have no numbers. But is the U.S.
ready to accept this in the declaration where you have a range of figures on
domestic support but there's nothing, no figures in market access?
Ambassador Portman: We hope we would have more specificity on both accounts.
As I said, one of the goals of this group, the G4 plus Japan group, is to put
some more flesh on the bones in all three pillars of agriculture. Export
competition, as you know, we have decided that there will be a termination but
we haven't chosen the date and there are still some outstanding issues with
regard to market access. My understanding is although there are not numbers in
the text, in the footnotes you will see some numbers in the committee report.
Again, I've just looked at it quickly. Then on the domestic support side I
notice there were numbers in sort of more of a chart form.
So the United States position is the same. We'd like to see balance across
all three pillars. We believe that the export competition pillar is ready for
negotiation. We think it has been ready, frankly, since July 2004. We think the
market access pillar is not ready for negotiation. We think the domestic support
pillar is ready for negotiation in part thanks to the October 10th U.S. proposal
which laid out with specificity domestic support numbers which have been
generally viewed as credible and which many countries are willing to negotiate
So the missing piece seems to be still the market access pillar.
Question: A simple question from a simple person. You say that progress was
made. Specifically what kind of progress?
Ambassador Portman: That's a simple but a very good question.
I guess I'd answer that by saying that, as I said at the outset, these are
tough issues. We're getting to the point where each country is being asked to
make concessions in their view and without coming together with the final
agreement which in WTO speak is the full modalities, sorry to use that, but
without having all the pieces in place to the puzzle it's hard to agree to one
piece so it's a challenge.
What we did today is we first walked through the process with Director
General Lamy to understand better what the timing is going up to Hong Kong, what
his expectations are, frankly, for what Hong Kong might be.
Then we talked about where on this range of issues, I talked about the three
pillars in agriculture, market access and NAMA services, we could add more, I
think I said flesh to the bones. How about this one, more meat on the bones. Put
more meat on the bones. Is that better? A little less graphic somehow. Put more
meat on the bones and so that's progress. That's how you calibrate progress in
We didn't make any final decisions but we did narrow some of our differences
and we also narrowed some of the topics that will now be worked on by Peter
Allgeier who is our ambassador to the WTO here in Geneva and other senior
officials who are present in the room. We were able to give them more explicit
direction with the hopes that when we come back we will be able to begin to put
enough meat on the bones so that Hong Kong is both an important stocktaking,
which is important as I said earlier, and there's an educational process that
needs to go on with many members who have not been as involved, and frankly with
the public. Many of you are very engaged, but not all of your readers and
viewers are yet, despite your great work. So there's an opportunity there for
that, but also an opportunity to try to take it to the next level. How do you
create in Hong Kong the building blocks for what will be the full modalities
down the line? Hong Kong is not going to be the full modalities. It was never
meant to be the end of the process. It was hoped it would be more than it's
going to be. But the reality is that the full modalities will come in 2006 so
the challenge we have now in my view, trying to be constructive, is how do you
make Hong Kong as specific as possible in terms of the building blocks.
Does that make sense?
Question: Well sort of, in some ways. [Laughter].
Ambassador Portman: It's incremental. It's the nature of the business and
they're tough decisions.
Question: May I also have a quick follow-up?
Ambassador Portman: Yes.
Question: Have you essentially lowered your expectations? You're talking now
about setting up a schedule of work or a process for work for next year. Do you
think that a Doha Round is doable before the, you know, for the United States to
sign it in time before the agreement expires?
Ambassador Portman: I do think it's possible, and I say this for two reasons.
One, I believe it's just too important to let the opportunity pass, and I think
the meeting in APEC was a very positive sign, not only because we issued strong
statements from the Ministers level, but you had the heads of state weighing in
as well. I talked about the statement, but I also referenced the fact that many
of them spoke individually to you all about their views on Doha and their views
on Hong Kong and their views on where the deadlock appeared, and they are
engaged. It's for all the right reasons. This is an opportunity by reducing
barriers to truly improve economic growth. There aren't many opportunities like
this. As I said earlier, I think it's the best single one we know of. The best
way to give the economy a shot in the arm and to help developing countries in
particular by getting them more engaged in global trade, giving them the tools
to do that which is the development aspect of this Round, but also lowering
tariff barriers between developing countries, south to south trade. Seventy
percent of the tariffs paid by developing countries are paid to other developing
countries, for instance, so there's a real opportunity here.
I don't see us leaving that opportunity behind.
Hong Kong will not be the establishment of the formulas and the so-called
full modalities that many of us had hoped for, but our expectations for Doha
have not been diminished. So while expectations for Hong Kong have been lowered,
and while Hong Kong will not be all we had hoped it would be, the U.S. continues
to have very high expectations.
The second reason I feel that, other than, as I said, just sort of the
importance of the round, is that if you look at history and you look at what's
happened in these other rounds including the Uruguay Round, having another year
and month and a half, which I guess is what we have if we're talking about the
end of 2006, still is a significant amount of time. Peter was involved with
Uruguay, he can speak more personally about it, but we were not this far along
in the Uruguay Round a year out. Now admittedly we have some pretty complex
issues to deal with because we're talking not just about average cuts, we're
talking about formulas that have bands and thresholds. We're digging in a little
deeper on some of these issues.
On the other hand, our issues are when you look at it historically, in some
senses we have fewer issues. Each issue I think is a little more complicated. Do
you think that's fair?
Ambassador Allgeier: We have more players.
Ambassador Portman: We have more players, too. But is that fair to say about
Uruguay, that a year and a month and a half out we were not this far along?
Ambassador Allgeier: I think that's a fair statement. It's hard to do a
comparison because they're quite different negotiations, but I think that we
certainly are at the point where we, it's feasible, credible for us to believe
that we can complete this within a year.
Question: Ambassador, a couple of questions. To start with, --
Ambassador Portman: One question, one follow-up, that's the rule.
Ambassador Portman: You've got to call the second one a follow-up.
Question: Okay. Thank you, Ambassador.
What was the EU's response today to the Koreas APEC declaration? Was it taken
very politely or was it taken very roughly?
Question: And then what happened on export competition?
Ambassador Portman: Is that your second question?
Question: Part of this question. [Laughter].
Ambassador Portman: That's all one question?
Ambassador Portman: He's good. Very good.
I don't think the EU talked about it today, did they? No.
You've read their statements, I'm not going to speak for them. But I don't
think it came up today. I don't remember it coming up today. I don't think it
had to. I think the statements had already been made publicly.
Export competition was an issue we talked about actually quite a bit today
because it's one of those issues where, again, if you look back at the framework
agreement, we've already decided there ought to be repeal in our own countries,
termination of these programs. so the question is, what is the end date and how
do you deal with the other elements of export competition like state trading
enterprises, food aid, and export credits which in my sense are part of export
subsidies. So we did talk about it. We talked about it at some length.
What's your follow-up question? It's got to be related.
Question: Yes, it's related.
Thank you, Ambassador. Now that you've said that there was an elaborate
discussion on the export competition, are you willing to agree for an
elimination of food aid as part of food aid for the export subsidies?
Ambassador Portman: No. But that's not what the framework provides. If you
look at the framework, it talks about commercial displacement, that we need to
stop the commercial displacement in food aid. It does not say that we should
eliminate food aid, nor do I believe that would be in the interests of those
countries that desperately need more food aid, not less. There's not enough food
aid to go around right now, and so the U.S. is willing to put forward
responsible proposals to put additional disciplines around food aid. But we feel
strongly that food aid has a place, as do many other countries, by the way,
including not just donor countries like us but donee countries that are
desperate for more, not less, food aid.
The concern is that should food aid be, you talked about monetizing your
sandwiches earlier. If food aid were to be monetized, in other words, if you
were to come up with a number, it's quite likely there would be less food, for
two reasons. One, if you look at the history of this, countries that have
monetized, are giving less food aid today. I would refer you to the European
Union as a classic example. If you want more numbers on that, we're happy to
provide them, or you can get them from the European Union.
Second is that when you send money and not food, sometimes the aid doesn't
get to the people who need it. That's because in many of these countries there
is aid which is not funneled to the proper use. I'll leave it to that. But
that's been our experience often when we have not provided food.
Finally, I would say in the United States itself we have a very supportive
Congress right now on food aid, in part because the agriculture community views
this as something positive.
So the key is that there not be commercial displacement. The key is that it
be responsibly given. As you know, food aid is less than one percent of the
trade in food in the world, so it's a very small part. And the United States is
willing to do that. That's consistent with the framework agreement.
We're also willing to do that within the date that is established for the
elimination of export subsidies which we've already agreed ought to be
eliminated and we are pushing hard for a date.
Tony Blair has, Prime Minister Blair has used the date of 2010. The APEC
countries issued their statement last week, as I said, with an end date of 2010.
The U.S. proposal was 2010. The G20 proposal was 2012. So I think it's time for
us to come up with a date.
Question: To help us engage our readers, as you said earlier, can you explain
more precisely what is putting meat to the bones means, for example, in NAMA
which is an area that is on your interest for Hong Kong. Thank you. What do you
expect from emerging markets then?
Ambassador Portman: In NAMA, which is non-agricultural market access, which
means industrial tariffs, tariffs in general other than agricultural tariffs,
which is I don't know, 70 percent of world trade? It's 62 percent of our
exports. Our manufactured products, for instance. So it's the biggest single
area. It's the area where you're going to see the most progress in terms of the
impact on economic growth and therefore on poverty. It's extremely important to
Doha. And putting more meat on the bones means establishing a formula that can
be agreed to by all parties, and the formula the U.S. supports is one that
reduces higher tariffs the most.
Since we're in Switzerland, we'll call it the Swiss formula which is its
proper name, but it's one that most of our trading partners are willing to work
with. In fact I think those countries that represent more than three-quarters of
world trade have been willing to work with that formula.
Then second is, within that formula, assuming we can find consensus there,
how do you determine how to deal with the differential between developing
countries and developed countries? The meat on the bones there would be to spell
that out per the Voice of America's question earlier. This may seem rather
technical but it has very big impacts in terms of the individual country's
economy and protected industries, and from my point of view in terms of
development and the benefits of trade.
In other words, if you don't see a reduction in the developed world, you
don't see the benefits of NAMA. The same is true with the developing world which
is where the highest tariffs are found. And it's not developed to developing
world trade that is as much of the focus in my view, which would be north/south,
it's more south/south trade.
So I think it's important that we deal with that. There are two elements
there, as you know. One is what kind of flexibilities which are built into the
framework agreement through paragraph 8. Then second is how you deal with the
coefficients in a Swiss formula. To the extent the coefficients which is a
mathematical formula, a very simple formula which basically says you need to
reduce the highest tariffs the most, then the question is how far apart the
coefficients are. If they're far apart, that means you'll see relatively less
reduction in the developing countries. So we're trying to come up with a system
that works for the WTO, meaning a consensus, meaning it's tough.
But we want to be sure that there is the ability to show real new market
access. So looking at not the bound rates in reductions, or legally from the
bound rates in the WTO, but the actual applied rates, what the rates are that
are actually in place today, 2005. Can you show that there will be new access,
that there will be a lowering of the trade barriers? And that's the U.S. goal
and the goal of many other countries. So we had a very good discussion on that
today and that has to be part of, in my view, part of the Hong Kong discussion
is how do you create, I said earlier the directions to the negotiators. How do
you create a set of directions that will reduce industrial tariffs on the NAMA
side, and not simply come up with a formula that reduces from the bound rates,
which is the allowable rate, but not go into the applied rates. In other words,
just out of water. It needs to be something where you're actually showing
Question: Ambassador, you mentioned earlier that you said there was some
narrowing of differences in the meeting today. I was wondering if you could give
a few specific examples of where you saw narrowing of differences.
Also, what discussions took place in regards to the post-Hong Kong agenda and
in a particular timeframe for completing an agreement on full modalities?
Ambassador Portman: I'm not going to be able to give you specifics for two
reasons. One, it was a discussion where members were putting their cards on the
table in a confidential manner to see what kind of cards they got back, which is
fair. Second, is that the senior officials are trying to consolidate our
discussion today and come back to us next week with something more specific. But
you can imagine the obvious areas, and they are the big areas. In each of them
we have a good discussion including agricultural, market access, domestic
support, export competition, but also NAMA and services.
Some areas of the pre-Hong Kong declaration that is coming out soon will be
better along than others, so we're trying to focus on those areas where we have
not been able to make as much progress in these major categories. So that in
Hong Kong again we're not just taking stock of where we are since July 2004. And
by the way, if you look at these documents, we've made some progress since July
2004. Even in the last few months we've made some progress and you'll see that
represented in these documents. But we're trying to move beyond that and make
Hong Kong also an opportunity to give more direction to the negotiators.
I'm sorry I can't give you the details today.
Your second question was --
Ambassador Allgeier: The post-Hong Kong agenda.
Ambassador Portman: We didn't decide on a time for a second meeting. There's
been a lot of discussion of that, as you know, openly in the press. I have never
said this to the press I don't think but I will say it. I believe we ought to
have another meeting. Without a meeting, without setting up sort of a backstop,
it's tough to make progress. We've got to make sure that coming out of Hong Kong
we don't simply all breathe a sigh of relief and go back home and start working
on other very important issues and leave Doha behind. We need to keep the
So we haven't set a timeframe. I know there's been some discussion of that.
Other Ministers have talked about specific timing and I will just say I think we
do need to have a follow-up to Hong Kong and it needs to be established, I
believe, in the Hong Kong timeframe so that there's again a proper attitude
coming out of Hong Kong that we're not done. Our work is not done. We need to
continue to push, keep the pressure on, to meet the end of 2006 deadline.
Question: Ambassador, I was wondering, you said ambition has not been
lowered. Can you highlight whether the U.S. is keen to join some of the
sectorials the Chairman has highlighted in his Chairman's text today? Auto and
auto parts, footwear, textiles and apparel, along with areas where the U.S. is
keen, like medical products, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals. Is the U.S.
willing to go for a big package on scrapping tariffs period in these areas?
What's in it for the U.S. manufacturers and the U.S. economy out of this
Secondly, what are the chances that you'll get passage of the Byrd amendment
through the Senate? Or is Senator Robert Byrd going to stiff you?
Ambassador Portman: Two great questions, John.
I'm going to ask Peter to comment on the sectoral approach. You have pointed
out a flaw in my earlier presentation about NAMA in response to the good
question from my friend from Brazil which is the sectoral approaches are also
very important. Why? Because they almost leapfrog the normal negotiating process
and provide for, among a critical mass of countries who are interested,
immediate zeroing of tariffs. We've seen this before, by the way in
telecommunications, and to a certain extent with information technology. So this
is a good model. We think it's a good supplement to whatever formula we end up
with and whatever the coefficients are, is to the extent possible to try to make
even more progress in individual sectors with interested countries. Critical
mass would be those countries that comprise the majority of the trade, or some
would say the vast majority of the trade.
Peter, I don't have a specific response on those sectors. I haven't seen the
document yet. Maybe you have, you could address that.
Ambassador Allgeier: I don't think there's much to add other than to point
out that we have consistently been probably the strongest advocate for these
sectoral initiatives. Obviously we have our priority list. You mentioned some of
them -- electronics, medical equipment, chemicals and so forth. But we're also
very open to others, particularly those that will be of importance to developing
One thing you mentioned was auto parts. Thank you for mentioning that because
it points out that sectoral agreements need to look not only at tariffs but also
at non-tariff barriers that can impede access. So non-tariff barriers and
particularly in the auto area is a priority for us.
Question: Just to clarify, you're open to also sectoral on leather, footwear,
textiles and apparel.
Ambassador Allgeier: We're talking to countries about what sectors would make
sense. We're certainly looking at what can be done in the textile and apparel
area. There's very different interests there among the countries, but we have
said that we are prepared to explore what's possible there.
Ambassador Portman: On Byrd. First, we were very pleased to see the House of
Representatives pass repeal of the Byrd Amendment as part of the budget
reconciliation bill. This is a politically sensitive issue and in the Senate, as
you know, there in the past has been a great deal of support for the Byrd
Amendment. But two things have transpired since then. One is that countries have
begun to retaliate against the United States based on a WTO decision. This has
changed the dynamic. This includes the EU, but also Canada, Japan. Have others
made a decision yet?
The second thing that's changed is that the passage in the Ways and Means
Committee and then on the House Floor shows that Members, even those
representing some districts that would be affected, have been willing to look at
our international obligations, and look at the negative impact of Byrd, and
frankly, John, I think this was a surprise to many observers. By two votes. But
it was by two votes not because of the Byrd Amendment, as you know. I don't know
what the vote would have been if it had been just the Byrd Amendment. It might
have been the same or worse. Or it might have been better.
But my point is to get it through the Ways and Means Committee and to get it
to the Floor and get it passed as part of this process is quite an
When I first took this job, as you know, I was asked about the Byrd Amendment
by Senators who are very supportive of it in the confirmation process, and I
indicated at the time that I thought it was important we repeal it. I also said
that would be very difficult. So this is quite an important step forward.
Now it's up to the United States Senate. We would call on the Senate to look
at the big picture, to understand that it has become a problem for us in terms
of other countries' ability to retaliate against us, and that the United States
wants to comply with our WTO obligations.
Question: Ambassador, is it your view that it's up to the EU to come up with
another proposal to make some substantial progress by the Hong Kong meeting?
Were there two meetings today with Japan and without Japan? If it's the case,
what is the difference of the agenda? Thank you.
Ambassador Portman: There was only one meeting. Minister Nakagawa was here.
Minister Nikai could not come. But Minister Nakagawa was here for the meeting.
He left just a little bit early because he had a flight to catch, but there was
just one meeting and in fact his representative stayed at the table.
I've been very frank about this market access issue in agriculture for a long
time now. Ever since the U.S. proposal. One reason is that it was my
understanding that if the U.S. came forward on the subsidy side there would be a
response on the market access side. That's certainly what was called for by so
many in the international community. And we haven't seen that balance yet.
So clearly, I think that's, for the United States, that creates a problem.
It's difficult for us to maintain our position without seeing the possibility of
our farmers getting a fair shake. In other words leveling the playing field more
in terms of tariffs. And it's not just in the European market, of course, the
framework which would be agreed to by the EU would apply to the whole world. So
if you apply the market access proposal that is currently on the table from the
EU it doesn't provide real access. Not just in Europe, but in so many third
countries. And I can give you all kinds of data on that. We've done all the
analysis. The numbers don't lie.
But it's not just the Europeans that need to move. All of us have a role here
to play. In particular, we need to make progress with regard to industrial
tariffs, as I said earlier. The NAMA negotiations are further along in a sense,
but in another sense they aren't because we haven't yet come to the final
consensus on the formula. We haven't yet put the coefficients in place. We
haven't yet identified whether we're going to retain the bracketed numbers on
flexibility that are in the framework agreement, paragraph eight. Those are
So when Peter Mandelson says, as Trade Commissioner for the EU, I need to see
more progress in these other areas including NAMA and in services, I think he
has a point. It all needs to come along together.
So yes, the EU needs to do more in market access and agriculture, no question
about it. And this is not my judgment or my country's judgment. This is the
judgment of so many objective observers. Then as you saw in APEC, the judgment
of so many WTO members.
But it's more than just that. We also need to see progress in the other areas
where the European Union happens to have a strong commercial interest as does
the United States. Then there are other areas that will be tough for the United
States, including some of the areas John just mentioned, where we are both
offensive and defensive in a lot of these areas, by the way including in
agriculture where we have our own protections in place that would have to be
dismantled in addition to our subsidies that we have offered to put on the
So these are tough discussions. But at this point it requires all of the
members to give a little more and to engage further in the talks.
Question: Mr. Portman, would you describe the current acceleration of
meetings and commitment as surgical measures by you and others not to declare
Hong Kong a failure like the two other meetings? And my second question is
whether the meeting in the first week of December, will it be enlarged or only
the G4 plus Japan?
Ambassador Portman: I don't know. I have always believed that we could do
better in Cancun and Seattle. I was at Seattle, as I've said to some of you I
had to dodge through the tear gas to get to my meetings but I went nonetheless.
We can do better. I think we will do better.
I think the expectations for Hong Kong are relatively low. That's probably
good in the sense that we're not going to be able to reach the full modalities
we'd hoped for so why keep expectations very very high if we can't meet
On the other hand, I think we can show progress. I think you'll see some
progress even this week with these committee reports. Since the 2004, July
framework, which was really the last time we had any convergence among these WTO
members, so we'll show progress since 2004 and then again I'm hopeful that not
just through this little process, the G4 plus one, but also through the General
Council process, through the Trade Negotiating Committee, through the work that
Pascal is doing with other countries, that we'll be able to build on that and
create, as I said earlier, building blocks for the eventual full modality. So
I'm hoping Hong Kong will be successful in that regard.
I also said at the outset that I think Hong Kong is helpful just to be an
educational forum. Just to let people understand our constituents which is our
citizens we represent, what this is all about. I'm glad you're here today and
I'm glad you write on these topics. But frankly, there should be more written
about it, especially in the States where there's not adequate interest in my
view in the importance of international trade to our economy. In the United
States I will tell you, we are totally dependent on international trade for both
imports and exports.
Yes, we have a big deficit, but we also have 12 million jobs, one out of
every five dependent on exports, and we're still the largest manufacturing
exporter in the world.
So I think Hong Kong can be a successful meeting. What happened in Cancun and
Seattle was in part a breakdown in communications. At least that's my sense. So
I think we need to communicate clearly. One reason I like talking to you all is
I hope I've been candid with you, to the extent I can be, without revealing what
people say in confidence. But we need to explain to those of you who are going
to follow Hong Kong what the expectations are. We need to be sure that to the
extent there are differences of opinion, which there will be in Hong Kong, that
you all understand what the differences are and it's not about some group of
countries trying to hurt another group of countries. This Cancun development --
developing countries versus developed country split I don't think will happen in
Hong Kong. I just don't think we're looking at that dynamic.
We are aligned very much with some of the developing world on some issues.
The EU or Japan may be aligned with the developing world in some countries, and
the developed world on other issues. It's more complicated maybe and therefore
less likely to have those kinds of divisions.
So I'm hopeful Hong Kong can be a productive meeting, even though it isn't
meeting my expectations or the expectations we had hoped for, and that it can
move the ball further in terms of education, in terms of stock taking, and also
in terms of beginning to put some new building blocks in place for the eventual
full modalities, and then the end of the negotiation at the end of 2006.
Ambassador Portman: The first week of December. As far as I know it will be
the same countries -- India, Brazil, the EU, the U.S., Japan. There will be lots
of other meetings going on, though. I think the G20 is going to be meeting. I
know the G90 is meeting next week as well. There's a meeting in the African
Union tomorrow I think, in Arusha. So there are lots of meetings going on and
all these meetings are important and the U.S. will have representation in all
these meetings, by the way. There also will be a TNC process and a General
Council meeting. The General Council meeting will be next Thursday and Friday I
So there are lots of fora where these issues will be discussed over the next
couple of weeks. As you say, it's kind of accelerating as we go into Hong
And then Hong Kong is coming up really at the end of that next week. It
doesn't start officially until the 13th, but many of us are going to try to go
early and continue these discussions with various groups. Not just with other
member countries but with NGOs, with constituents who will be there including
lots of members of Congress probably. So it will be an opportunity to have a lot
of interface with you all, but also with a lot of other stakeholders in the
international trading system.
Thank you all.