World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Trade Rep. Builds Support for U.S. Food Aid at WTO

Trade Representative Building Support for U.S. Food Aid at WTO

Portman testifies against proposals to convert all food aid to cash

By Bruce Odessey
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman says he expects some developing countries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will support continuation of U.S. food aid programs that have come under pressure in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.

In September 21 testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Portman said he believes the United States can assemble a coalition to offset demands from the European Union (EU), Switzerland, Australia and other food-exporting countries to convert all food aid into cash.

At issue are U.S. programs such as Food for Peace, which in part provides for the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities by the U.S. government to meet humanitarian food needs in foreign countries.

Portman argued that all-cash food aid, such as the EU now employs, often ends up filling the pockets of corrupt officials instead of the stomachs of hungry people.

"I think there's plenty of evidence of that," Portman said. "There is still a significant concern on our part of corruption and the need to get this food to people who need it quickly."

He asserted that U.S. donation of agricultural commodities does not displace commercial food sales and that now the world needs much in the way of emergency food supplies.

"The last thing we want to do is cut back on emergency food aid when we need it," he said.

Portman said he expects he can line up support from African and other developing countries, as well as from NGOs that support the U.S. food aid programs as they are.

Food aid is only one of the issues in the long-stalled WTO negotiations. Since their launch four years ago, by most accounts, the negotiations have made little progress except for a framework agreement on the difficult agriculture issues worked out in July 2004. (See related article.)

And since July 2004, Portman said, the negotiations have made little progress. Nevertheless, he expressed hope that the parties will move forward before a crucial WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December.

"I am hopeful that we can still come together -- not with a final product at Hong Kong; that will not happen, and we ought not to have those expectations -- but with the kind of formulas and the kind of modalities ... that enable us to make progress in 2006," he said.

Portman’s goal is to complete WTO negotiations by the end of 2006 to present a negotiated agreement to Congress in early 2007 for consideration before trade promotion authority (TPA, otherwise known as fast track), expires in July 2007.

Under TPA, Congress restricts itself to approving or rejecting a negotiated trade agreement, within strict time limits and without amendments.

The U.S. objectives in the agriculture negotiations are for better market access, especially lower tariffs in developing countries; elimination of export subsidies by a set deadline; and sharp reduction of domestic payments to farmers.

Portman's prepared testimony can be accessed on the Agriculture Committee's Web site as can the testimony of Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.

For more information on U.S. participation in the global body dealing with the rules of trade between nations, see USA and the WTO.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>