Farm groups tell Lighthizer priorities for WTO meeting
A coalition of 14 farm groups today urged the Trump administration to take a number of positions to defend U.S. agriculture in the World Trade Organization ministerial conference to be held Sunday through Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In a letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the organizations said they had three priorities:
▪ Oppose attempts to weaken the disciplines on price supports through public stockholding programs.
▪ Oppose new disciplines on domestic support for the United States while several large agricultural trading countries ignore current disciplines.
▪ Preserve the binding, enforceable WTO dispute settlement mechanism while ensuring it continues to function as quickly as possible.
“It is surreal to witness attempts to negotiate new domestic support commitments when so many countries have flagrantly ignored current commitments,” the organizations wrote. “Any domestic support outcome should carefully target the deficiencies in the system that led to such enormous abuses.”
The groups also credited Lighthizer for addressing the abuse problem through the dispute settlement case against China on its non-compliant price support programs for wheat, corn and rice.
Finally, the farm organizations expressed strong support for the WTO dispute settlement system and its role addressing some of the major challenges in agricultural markets.
Saying that global trade rules for agriculture had improved following the creation of the WTO, the groups also expressed concern that U.S. actions to block WTO Appellate Body appointments indefinitely could prevent resolution of current cases and discourage new ones that might benefit U.S. agriculture.
WTO ministerial meetings are usually some of the most important meetings in world trade, but President Donald Trump has so frequently criticized the WTO that expectations for reaching any important agreements in Buenos Aires are low.
The following organizations signed the letter, which was released by U.S. Wheat Associates:
▪ American Farm Bureau Federation
▪ American Soybean Association
▪ National Association of Wheat Growers
▪ National Barley Growers Association
▪ National Corn Growers Association
▪ National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
▪ National Sunflower Association
▪ U.S. Canola Association
▪ U.S. Dry Bean Council
▪ U.S. Grains Council
▪ U.S. Soybean Export Council
▪ U.S. Wheat Associates
▪ USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
▪ USA Rice Federation