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AFBF: Commitment to market access needed

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman agrees with congressional leaders who this week sent a letter to President Bush opposing a December meeting of WTO trade ministers. Before such a meeting is held, Stallman said, there must be “sufficient evidence that WTO members are truly committed to granting meaningful market access.

“Moving ahead with a deal that Congress and agriculture cannot support would be detrimental to the overall stature of the WTO as an institution and would provide no stimulus to the slumping global economy,” Stallman said.

“In light of the deteriorating status of world trade talks, some member nations, especially those considered key emerging economies, still are not committed to opening their markets. In fact, several nations are hardening or revising their positions, which further reduces their willingness to make real trade reform.”

Stallman said AFBF, along with organizations representing the manufacturing and service sectors, recently communicated strong opposition to a new WTO Ministerial meeting to President Bush.

“The December timetable is arbitrary and places the Doha Round of WTO talks in jeopardy, especially given the overall lack of progress in recent discussions.”

Stallman emphasized that “limited expectations and low ambition” are not conducive to achieving the kind of real trade reform that would help support job creation and economic growth.

“Trade talks should be about increasing, rather than decreasing trade opportunities,” Stallman said. “Any trade deal that legitimizes agricultural trade barriers and protectionist behavior is unacceptable. Until there is evidence that WTO members are committed to real trade reform to benefit the world economy, it would be counterproductive and dangerous to take any further steps.”

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