(Question asking about the media reports about the WTO
Amb. Crowder: We’re awfully pleased with the
biotech decision. We think
it’s the right decision. We
appreciate the support of our industry in working with us on it. We think it will be good for the biotech
industry in the broad sense in that it will benefit countries around the world
as biotech adoption is increased.
And who would have thought that when biotech came out some
years ago that increased productivity was good for the environment and had all
the advantages that biotech had – that it would have to go through such
struggles? And it has gone through
some struggles, but despite that, it’s been one of the most successful
technology adoption stories that we’ve had. If you look at the number of farmers
that are using it, the rate of adoption, the number of acres and the number of
countries and so forth.
So, you know the report technically is confidential. I know there’ve been a lot of comments
on it, but we’re pleased and I think I’ll just limit my comments to that.
the EU abide by this decision?)
Crowder: It’s up to the EU to
abide by it. I certainly they
do. I have no reason at this stage
of the game to expect that they wouldn’t.
this more important because of the signal it sends to Africa or to countries outside the EU?)
Amb Crowder: I think it’s important to Africa and the other countries. And understand that the rate of adoption
in developing countries and elsewhere is growing. But I think this will also encourage the
process of approvals and adoption within the EU. We’ve seen what’s happened in Spain
with corn over the years, so I think it will benefit the both of them.
(Question asking about CAFTA implementation.)
Amb Crowder: The SPS issue is very important to
us in implementation. We’ve been working with a number of CAFTA countries and
we’ve been successful in a number of countries and I think we’ll be successful
in implementation of the entire CAFTA.
The thing that we don’t want to happen is to have a
successful Free Trade Agreement and then product not move because of uncertainty
with respect to SPS measures. We
are not asking countries to lower their standards or to compromise their food
safety and other SPS measures, but basically to recognize the equivalency issue
here and to be consistent with WTO SPS procedures. There’s no request to compromise any
food safety requirements that may exist in other countries.
(Question on CAFTA Timeline.)
Amb Crowder: We’re working it country by country
right now and we will implement country by country. There are a number of countries that
we’re working with now on implementation.
Salvador is basically done. As far as I know, it has been worked
(Question on Costa Rica election & CAFTA.)
Amb. Crowder: No, I would not be in a position to judge
what the basis of all the issues in Costa Rica as to whether this is a
referendum on that or not.
Trade Official: It’s useful to
remember what happened in the negotiations. We closed with the other four countries
in December of 2003. Costa
Rica didn’t want to finish. They then came back January, February
and closed out a deal very similar to the others. And so there’s a dynamic here of Costa
Rica seeing the rest of the region move before they feel like they’re being left
out, and then they need to be a part of this (unintelligible) So, that doesn’t
answer your election question specifically, but I think it does explain a lot of
why Costs Rica is going to be lagging, but why we expect them ultimately to be a
part of this.
(Question asking for an update on Doha.)
Amb. Crowder: I’ll start with my first trip to
Geneva which was
two weeks ago, Jason? This first
month has run together like a two year period almost. It’s been rather hectic. I was in Geneva and spent two or three
days there visiting with my counterparts from the EU, the Cairns Group,
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil and a number of other countries talking
about the process. We then went to
Davos where the ministers met and I thought we came out of there with commitment
by the ministers to move the process forward and tomorrow night we will leave to
go back to Europe. We’ll be in Geneva Saturday, Sunday and
Monday to visit with, I guess negotiate with a probably a better word. We have
meetings scheduled with our counterparts Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon,
and Monday in Geneva.
And the WTO agricultural group will meet the rest of that week at
After that, we’ll meet again in about two weeks, I
expect. We decided when I was over
there that the process needed more than a meeting once a week. So, at the senior official’s level, if
you will, we will be pressing this processes as efficiently and effectively as
we can to meet the April 30 deadline for modalities.
(Question: Will you meet that deadline?)
I’m going to give you the same answer I have been giving
since my third day on the job here.
I spoke to the American Farm Bureau that day and the question was ‘Can
you really get this done?” I said
for the time being, we’re focused on how to get it done, rather than if it can
So, that is still our mind set right now – to get it done,
rather than saying ‘what happens if
we don’t meet the deadline’ or ‘if someone doesn’t move.’ The idea is to focus on how to get it
done, not if.
I’m an optimist.
I have a perspective on this that goes back a long time. In 1989 when I came to town to work at
USDA, there was a lot of concern about the Uruguay Round. Obviously in 1989 we didn’t have the
time constraints we have now, but people said what can you get done or are you
ever going to get anything done?
And, I look back at that time, and at that time, we did not even have an
agreement to discipline export subsidies on agriculture. We did not have tariffication. We had
not done the 1990 Farm Bill here.
We had not had the first part of
And, out of Hong Kong came
an agreement to eliminate export subsidies in agriculture by a date
certain. And this has been a long
term objective. It’s a long time
frame, but it says, that maybe some slowness, but the process is working and the
most trade-distorting export subsidies have a date certain now. It’s a real win on something that we
were just talking about back in 1989 when I came here. At that time, Japan was saying ‘we can’t
do tariffication,’ the Europeans were saying ‘we can’t do tariffication,’ but at
the end of the day something was done and at the end of a few years, we’re
getting closer and closer to an objective that we had way back then.
(Question on budget & subsidies)
Amb. Crowder: I have not been part of the budget
process here, having been here just a month, but I think the budget was done as
a budgeting exercise, not as a Doha exercise.
(Question on how the negotiations work)
Amb. Crowder: Well, you know what we used to say
in a number of the companies I worked in:
you haven’t begun to sell until you’ve been told ‘no.’ Until the customer tells you ‘no,’ you’re
selling job hasn’t begun. So, there
is a selling job here; there’s a negotiating job here that … and there are trade
offs. I don’t know how many times I
was told no, that we cannot tariffy, way back in ’89, ’90. And the one thing that we’ve got now
that we’ve not always had is we’ve got these deadlines (unintelligible) . I think that’s good. That’ll put some discipline in the
process and we’ll see how far we can take it.
you point to any specific accomplishment since Hong
Kong in these negotiations?)
U.S. Trade Official: What’s happened since Hong Kong is a couple of things. One, we’ve started a formal process in
Geneva of the
negotiators. Crawford Falconer, the
chairman of the negotiations, has called together one meeting. He’s going to have another one next
week. And, he’s going to be driving
that process. So we’ve got a
framework to have talks.
Second, we’ve had some success in terms of knocking down some
data ideas that would help. Some
people were saying the deadlines under Hong
Kong and to finish negotiations at the end of 2006 were not real. But out of Davos, everyone re-affirmed
the importance of getting that done.
We’ve had some people saying they weren’t going to move any more until
others moved, and so they’re just going to sit on their hands. But again, coming out of Davos, we’ve
had countries who know we’re going to have to move in concert. Everybody’s going to have to move on
NAMA and agriculture together. So
that’s helped deal with some of the politics of it. And we’ve had some countries saying,
‘you know this deal’s not that important, we’re ready to walk away.’ They’re not saying that anymore, again,
coming out of Davos.
In terms of a structure, I think we’ve got room for us to
negotiate. In terms of the
political dynamic of ‘are we focused on the right question?’ our country’s
committed, we’ve got a commitment to that.
But the real tough job is on the substance of this. How big are the cuts going to be? How do you work all those out? Amb. Crowder was remarking on; that’s
what we’re headed off to this week, to push that along.
(Question on AWB)
REPORTER: Are you monitoring the AWB scandal
in Australia and what impact to you
expect it to have with respect to negotiations?
Amb. Crowder: We are aware, we are monitoring,
I’ve seen what’s going on with the AWB reports. But it’s … I think it’s too early to
say, at least for me, what it might mean for the negotiations. But it has obviously received quite a
bit of press recently.
(Question on Davos, as what are they instructions, was it the
Crowder: I’m not quite sure,
help me on this Sally, exactly. You
mean instructions in terms of numbers or…
Instructions on what the expectations would be for the negotiations between
now and April 30th. Was
there an agreement? Was there a
determination or agreement by the ministers in Davos to do it now? Or was it a
little vaguer than that?
Crowder: Well I think the
instructions or the guidelines, if you will, coming out of Davos is that there
were three things that were important there. That there, you know, so good came out
of Hong Kong number one. Number two, we need to build on that
together, in concert if you will.
And three, that the times schedule set in Hong
Kong should still be a target.
So, that’s where we are and that’s why we’re aggressively pursuing time
together and meetings in Geneva and so forth.
(Question on how market access might be resolved.)
Amb. Crowder: In
terms of specific movement, no.
Ok. In terms of willingness
to sit down at the table in terms of awareness of the importance of not only the
market access, but other issues, yes.
The meeting we’re going to have, the meetings we’re going to have this
weekend and into early next week in Geneva have received, you know, positive
response from those that are going to be at the meeting. So, the fact that there is a strong
willingness to engage in discussion, I think, is a positive sign. Someone said I’m going to move from 31
percent to 32.5 percent or something like that, no, we’re not at that stage at
this stage of the game. But the
idea of engagement on a serious basis is very positive as far as I’m
(Question: Are these talks going to be focusing on the market
access component of agriculture?)
Amb. Crowder: We’re going to focus on all
three. We’ll start with market
access and then we’ll also focus on domestic support and the export competition
(Question on whether having Sec. Johanns in the negotiations
Amb. Crowder: For me, it is. And I’ll just go back until the time
that I was here. I think that team
work is important. When I was here
in 1989 and 1992 the ag negotiations were over at USDA. So there was a natural partnership
between USDA and USTR at the time.
I mean Jules Katz was the deputy here and Jules and I met on a regular
basis. And Clayton Yeutter and
Hills played with the
secretary and Carla was the trade rep at the time. They met regularly, traveled
regularly. From my standpoint, it’s
not uncommon. I don’t know what
happened in between; I wasn’t here.
But certainly, the partnership that we have with USDA and the
relationship between Amb. Portman and Sec. Johanns is certainly a strength for
us in this whole process.
is the Peruvian agreement going?)
Amb. Crowder: The Peruvian agreement is done and
now we’ll just have to wait for it to go through the Congressional process and I
think it’ll (unintelligible) well there.
the Colombian President coming to negotiate?)
Amb. Crowder: I had not heard that the Colombian
President was coming next week. Has
anyone heard that? The negotiating
team is coming next week and we’ll resume the negotiations with the Colombians
that were … we’ll pick up where we were the week before last when they were
here. They’ll be here next
week. In fact, I talked to the
minister down there yesterday on the telephone we coordinated schedules because
they’re going to be here, I think starting on Tuesday of next week, and we’ll go
forward from there.
(Question on the Farm Bureau resolution to extend the Farm
Amb. Crowder: The Farm Bill I will leave to Sec.
Johanns and his team. But, I think
the important thing out of the Farm Bureau is that they are supportive of a ‘big
deal,’ if you will, in terms of the Doha Round. That’s the other thing I should say, is
that we’re not looking for a small deal, we’re looking for the big deal, if you
will, out of this. We think that’s
what we need to be successful for us – to have a big deal out of this. I think our proposal reflects a big
deal. So, I say again, I think the
good news for us out of Farm Bureau is they’re supporting where we’re going
(Question on ITC tariffs from Brazil.)
Amb. Crowder: In all honesty, I don’t know. I’m not up to speed on this.
(Question on Korea FTA.)
Amb. Crowder: A free trade agreement with South
Korea would be a ‘big deal.’ It’s really important. It’s our sixth largest agricultural
market. It would be the biggest FTA
since NAFTA. If you look at the opportunities for agriculture in
U.S. producers, farmers, and
Korea will be a very important Free Trade
Trade Official: We were just
talking about some of the numbers.
They’re our sixth biggest market.
We sell something like $2.4 billion there in ag products in 2004. And, that’s over an average ag tariff of
something like 50 – 60 percent. And
so already, with those high tariffs in play, it’s a good market. So, if we bring those tariffs down, it’s
got our attention.
Their average tariff is 60 percent.
Amb. Crowder: These agreements are
Korea really be free trade or are you just
expecting reductions in tariffs?)
Trade Official: Zero.
Amb. Crowder: They don’t all go to zero at the
same rate over the same length of time as you’ve seen from one agreement to the
other. But the concept of a free
trade agreement is a free trade agreement.
CAFTA countries aren’t selling all the sugar they want to the
U.S.; so could Korea
come up with something like that for their rice farmers?)
Amb. Crowder: I think the CAFTA countries will be
able to sell the amount of sugar that they agreed to …
Trade Official: The South
Koreans are very nervous about opening their rice market and you all have seen
South Korean protestors on TV. Who
was it was telling us – they’re like the Irish of Asia. So, it’s going to be a tough slog, but
certainly, our expectation is that our FTAs for the markets and products we’re
interested in, we want to have free trade.
We did that in CAFTA; they didn’t eliminate their tariffs on white
corn. So we’re going to be pushing
to meet that (unintelligible).
(Question about sugar import barriers.)
Amb. Crowder: The sugar program is part of the
Farm Bill process that’s part of the law. Sec. Johanns said a year ago, when we
were doing CAFTA, that we would not do anything internationally to interfere
with the sugar program through the 2007 Farm Bill. In terms of where we would like to go, I
think the sugar people have said this (unintelligible) Doha, if we went to a
level playing field, a comprehensive agreement, that they would support that and
that’s what we’re trying to get done.
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