WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today held a press conference during which they discussed their expectations about the agricultural negotiations for the forthcoming Doha Round of trade negotiations scheduled for December in Hong Kong.
“First and foremost, market access is critical. If the agricultural negotiations are going to be considered successful, they must break down barriers to U.S. agricultural exports, reduce tariffs and provide the means for the United States to export the bounty that our farmers and ranchers produce,” said Goodlatte.
While the U.S. maintains an open market for trade, Goodlatte expressed frustration that U.S. products don’t enjoy similar access foreign markets, putting U.S. producers at a significant disadvantage.
“Tariffs in the U.S. average 12%, while the rest of the world averages 62%. In fact, the average tariff in the European Union is two and a half times ours and they have subsidies that are quite higher. Our five largest agricultural exports---corn, soybeans, beef, pork and poultry---are all blocked from the EU because of GMO’s, growth hormones, phyto-sanitary standards or because of the way we process our poultry and pork. The EU leaders are going to have to come back with better options if they expect the U.S. to make concessions,” said Goodlatte.
Referencing President Bush’s announcement earlier this year that the U.S. would be willing to drop its farm support programs and tariffs if other countries do the same, Goodlatte sounded a cautionary note.
“I support the President’s proposal and would convey the message that we will put everything on the table if you will put everything on the table. Our trading partners need to understand that we will do everything possible to ensure the competitive position of American farmers and ranchers, however we cannot unilaterally disarm and scrap our farm support programs without other countries doing the same thing at the same time,” said Chairman Goodlatte.