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Farm Groups Encourage Continued WTO Membership

Brian German Agri-Business, Trade

WTO Membership

A large group of agricultural organizations is encouraging the U.S. to remain members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In a letter to U.S. trade officials and congressional leaders, the coalition points to the value that WTO membership provides for the agriculture industry. The group notes the benefits that membership provides, while also detailing areas that could be improved upon.

“Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in economic development of the United States and our trading partners,” the letter states. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.”

The letter was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer along with leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and Senate and House Agriculture Committees. The signatories point out that WTO membership provides American agricultural producers with ‘most-favored nation’ treatment in 163 countries. The groups also emphasize changes that are necessary to ensure the efficacy of the WTO moving forward.

“While the WTO has been beneficial for U.S. agriculture, its rules have not kept pace with changes in the global economy, and improvement is needed to hold members accountable and improve the organizations’ governance,” the groups state in the letter. “We appreciate and support efforts to provide needed reforms.”

The letter was signed by 62 agricultural organizations including American Farm Bureau Federation, National Meat Institute, WineAmerica, and U.S. Dairy Export Council. The group notes that the transition in WTO leadership presents an opportunity for essential reform. In selecting the next WTO Director General, the coalition highlights several key areas of emphasis including strong leadership skills for navigating the complexities involved with global agricultural trade. Finally, the group links WTO membership with the continued success of American agriculture so long as a strong rules-based trading system remains in place.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West