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White House Fact Sheet WTO Ministerial in Seattle

White House Fact Sheet on WTO Ministerial in Seattle
(November meeting expected to launch new round of trade talks)

Following is the text of a September 12 White House fact sheet on the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be held in Seattle, Washington this November:

(begin text)

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
(Auckland, New Zealand)

For Immediate Release
September 12, 1999

FACT SHEET

The World Trade Organization Ministerial in Seattle

Today, the President called upon the leaders of the Pacific Rim economies at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in New Zealand to endorse his agenda for the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to be held in Seattle, Washington this November. The WTO Ministerial is expected to launch a new round of global trade negotiations and provide the United States the opportunity to shape the international trade agenda well into the 21st century.

The President urges WTO members to advance the following agenda at the Seattle Ministerial:

-- Launch a new round with a broad-based market access agenda (services, agriculture, and industrial tariffs);

-- Set a forward work program to include trade and labor;

-- Achieve a set of deliverables at Seattle for business;

-- Focus on implementation of existing commitments and continued integration of countries into the WTO; and

-- Undertake institutional improvements to make the WTO a more transparent organization.

Launching a New Global Trade Round

The United States seeks a broad-based yet manageable Round that focuses on market access in agriculture, services and industrial goods, and lasts no longer than three years. Friday, APEC Ministers lent their support to a three-year Round. Additionally, Ministers agreed to pursue the abolition of agricultural export subsidies, another key U.S. goal for the Round. The United States also seeks agreement on forward work program in labor within the WTO.

Achieving Early Results

The United States seeks early agreement on the following WTO Ministerial deliverables:

Government Procurement Transparency Agreement. The President seeks agreement on publication of government procurement opportunities and procedures among WTO economies. Transparency in government procurement helps prevent corruption.

Accelerated Tariff Liberalization (ATL) Agreement. The President seeks agreement on phasing-out tariffs in eight product areas: forest products; fish and fish products; toys; gems and jewelry; chemicals; and medical equipment; environmental goods; and energy equipment.

Extension of the Prohibition on E-Commerce Duties. In 1998, WTO Ministers agreed to a temporary prohibition on duties on electronic commerce. The United States seeks a permanent extension of the prohibition to ensure continue growth of the high-technology sector.

Improving WTO Institutional Transparency and Accountability

The President highlighted the need to make the WTO more transparent and more accountable during his State of the Union Address this year. To achieve these goals, the United States seeks a new policy on quicker de-restriction of WTO documents, and new reforms on dispute settlement, including requiring parties to make their briefs public, making panel reports public as soon as parties receive them, requiring panels to accept amicus briefs from civil society, and opening panel hearings to public.

(end text)


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