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NAM Official expresses concern over DOHA text.

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May 22, 2008 - In response to new DOHA Round negotiating language for manufactured goods trade, NAM President and CEO John Engler said the text is disappointing and is a step backward from the trade liberalization the world needs. It has tilted against the U.S. and enables high-tariff countries to do even less. Engler also said that a contributing factor has been that U.S. negotiators have been hobbled by the unwillingness of Congress to pass the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement.

NAM Expresses Concern over New DOHA Text

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National Association Of Manufacturers (NAM)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC, 20004

Press release date: May 20, 2008

U.S. Position Weakened by Inaction on Colombia, says Engler

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2008. In response to this week's release by the World Trade Organization (WTO) of new Doha Round negotiating language for manufactured goods trade, National Association of Manufacturers President and Chief Executive Officer John Engler issued the following statement:

The new text is disappointing and is a step backward from the trade liberalization the world needs. Manufactured goods are 60 percent of world trade, services 20 percent, and agriculture only 7 percent (oil and raw materials are the rest). There cannot be a Doha Round without substantial trade liberalization in manufacturing and services, and the new text makes that liberalization more difficult than before.

High-tariff advanced developing nations such as China, India, and Brazil, have pressed hard to get a text aimed at obtaining major concessions from the United States and other industrial nations, while minimizing their own market openings. These countries, though, are the ones with the highest barriers to exports from the poorest countries. Unless they cut their barriers, the Doha Round can contribute little to global trade and development.

The new text has tilted against the United States and enables high-tariff countries to do even less than the original text - in some cases allowing them to do virtually nothing. In my view, a contributing factor to this development has been that U.S. negotiators have been hobbled by the unwillingness of Congress to pass the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement, while at the same time passing a massive new farm bill.

The lesson is clear: if the U.S. Congress is afraid of passing a trade agreement with Colombia, a country whose economy is only the size of San Diego's, how can there be any confidence the United States will stick to trade negotiators' commitments in the Doha Round? This has lessened the willingness of other countries to take the heat of their own constituencies that would result from serious market opening moves, and makes them even more reluctant to reach deep into their pockets.

As Fred Bergsten, President of the highly regarded Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former Carter Administration official, said this week in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Congress' recent action destroying "fast track" negotiating authority has caused the United States to lose all credibility in trade negotiations.

The National Association of Manufacturers is still hopeful a Doha Round deal that will deliver genuine and significant new market access is possible, but U.S. negotiators face an even more uphill climb than before. To help make their task easier, the Administration and Congress should immediately find a way to pass the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement.

CONTACT: HANK COX (202) 637-3090

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