House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement regarding the multilateral agreement reached at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
“I appreciate the efforts of Ambassador Froman and his team in working to put an end to foreign export subsidies.
“The agreement reached in Nairobi was never expected to reduce the high foreign tariffs that obstruct much of our agricultural trade nor eliminate escalating foreign domestic farm subsidies. Efforts in regard to these two pillars of free trade have for many years now proved to be intractable as our trading partners have consistently refused U.S. offers to achieve meaningful reductions in these areas. I agree with Ambassador Froman’s appraisal that progress toward freer trade and a level playing field for American farmers and ranchers must be pursued in contexts outside of the ‘failed construct’ of the Doha Round, including focused agreements such as the one reached in Nairobi.
“That said, I am concerned that the agreement reached in Nairobi allows developing countries to continue to use export subsidies for transportation and marketing for another 8 years even though the United States has held the position that the authority of countries to offer these sorts of subsidies expired back in 2004. We need to ensure that these kinds of export subsidies are no longer permitted to harm U.S. farmers and ranchers. The agreement reached in Nairobi at least assigns a definitive date to ending these subsidies. But, the success of this aspect of the agreement will ultimately be measured by its rigorous and full enforcement.
“The agreement also acknowledges the reforms to domestic cotton policy made by the United States. While I appreciate the recognition of our efforts, I am disappointed that some acknowledgment was not made concerning the deeply harmful impacts that China and India’s domestic cotton policies are having upon cotton farmers around the world, including farmers here at home and in least developed countries to which there appears to be no end in sight.
“I will continue to shine a bright light on the harmful, and in some cases illegal, trading practices of China, India, and other trading partners because they deny America’s farmers and ranchers the level playing field they have so often been promised and certainly deserve. I thank Ambassador Froman for his continued efforts to make inroads in this regard in the face of stiff foreign resistance.”