The United States says it is ready to cut its trade-distorting farm
subsides to $15 billion a year in a bid to reach a global trade deal
that could help boost the world economy. The offer was made on the
second day of a ministerial meeting aimed at wrapping up the
seven-year-old negotiation to ease trade restrictions. Lisa Schlein
reports for VOA from World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva.
Trade Representative Susan Schwab says the proposal reflects a promise
made by Washington to play a leading role in getting a trade deal done.
The U.S currently has a ceiling of just over $48 billion
on agricultural subsidies. But, actual support payments to
farmers came to about $7 billion last year because soaring
food prices meant they needed less help.
Schwab says the
proposed $15 billion ceiling is $2 billion below what the
United States promised a year ago. She says this offer is being made
to move the negotiations forward and to conclude the talks.
is a major move taken in good faith with the expectation that others
will reciprocate and step forward with improved offers in market
access," she said. "These cuts will deliver effective and significant
reductions in trade distorting domestic farm support."
talks, called the Doha Development Round, aim to make trade fairer for
poor countries. The United States and European Union have been under
pressure to reduce their agricultural subsidies and to cut tariffs.
countries say trade-distorting subsidies give the wealthy countries an
unfair advantage, making it difficult for them to compete in the open
Wealthy countries say they are willing to cut their
farm supports, but in return the poorer countries have to provide
greater market access to their manufactured goods and services.
says the new cuts proposed by Washington would require adjustments to
domestic farm programs. But, the U.S. is prepared to make those
"But, we also need assurances that if our programs are
going to meet these disciplines, they are then not going to be subject
to legal challenges that reduce them further," said Schwab. "Now, let
me say again. These reductions are not offered in isolation. They
must be accompanied by significant market access, market opening in
agriculture and in NAMA."
NAMA or Non-Agricultural Market Access Negotiation deals with a wide-range of manufactured and industrial goods.
to the U.S. proposal so far has been mixed. The European Union calls
it a reasonable offer, but suggests it could go further. A Brazilian
delegate says it is a nice try, but still too high.