ASA, farm groups press for progress on ag issues during Nairobi WTO Ministerial

Farm groups send letter to USDA, USTR urging trade positions. Nairobi WTO meeting ongoing.

In a December 14 letter to the USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the American Soybean Association led a coalition of agricultural organizations in urging Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Michael Froman to work toward positive outcomes for agriculture in this week’s WTO Ministerial in Nairobi.

Leading off the letter, the groups noted the longstanding differences on market access and domestic supports within the Doha round of WTO negotiations, and called on U.S. negotiators to lead a push to conclude the Doha Round at this Ministerial.

With regard to export competition, the letter strongly supports U.S. efforts to eliminate export subsidies (including by the EU and Canada), reform export credit programs, and eliminate State Trading Enterprises and single desk trading.

“Such an agreement would continue global momentum established in these important areas and prevent countries from backsliding on their past policy changes going forward,” the groups said, while at the same cautioning against weakening such rules in developing nations, specifically noting subsidies by Brazil and other emerging nations for transportation, handling and processing costs for exported commodities.

“This issue is critically important because we believe certain competitor countries could use the provision as legal cover for programs they are currently using to compete unfairly with U.S. exports,” wrote the groups. “For example, India subsidizes transportation costs for exported sugar, and Brazil uses its PEP and PEPRO programs to subsidize various commodities into traditional U.S. markets.”

Finally, the letter urged the elimination of residual export subsidies in the agricultural sector, but cautioned against language that would legitimize subsidies in developing nations. 

Signatories to the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, USA Rice, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Soybean Export Council and U.S. Wheat Associates.

The Nairobi Ministerial continues through Friday.

A full transcript of the letter.

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