Statement by Ambassador Peter Allgeier at the WTO
Reference Note: In view of the financial and economic crisis, the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) is to discuss on a regular basis recent trade-related developments. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy presented the third report on these developments at the Informal TPRB on July 13, 2009.
The United States thanks the Secretariat for its efforts to monitor the trade-related implications of individual economies’ responses to the ongoing economic crisis.
We appreciate Members’ contributions to the latest report and are pleased that a growing number of Members are responding to the Secretariat’s request for input.
Overall, the results of the United States’ own monitoring continues to be similar to the factual contents of the report. The importance of great vigilance in monitoring the situation remains obvious. We agree with the Director General on the need to not become complacent, yet we are heartened that “[the] resort to high intensity protectionist measures has been contained overall.
And, despite persistent pressures in many capitals, we are encouraged that “there have been more instances of countries taking trade liberalizing and facilitating measures than in the previous three or six-month periods and fewer cases of new tariff and non-tariff barriers.”
These results underscore our belief that the system appears to be working, due both to the presence of WTO rules and the effect of very visible monitoring efforts.
The United States appreciates the focus in the new report on the work of a number of committees. As we have stated before, these times demand a revitalization of our day to day work here in Geneva that often gets little public attention. The United States continues to be interested in working with our trading partners to use the relevant committees, working parties and councils to address some of the concerns highlighted in the reports to date.
As mentioned by Canada and Mexico, the United States welcomes the report’s inclusion of measures taken in response to the A(H1N1) virus. In this regard, we would again like to highlight the May 2, 2009 Joint FAO, OIE, WHO and WTO statement on the A(H1N1) virus, which states that, “[t]o date there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food. There is currently therefore no justification in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Code for the imposition of trade measures on the importation of pigs or their products.” We join Mexico, Brazil, and Canada in urging Members who have imposed these unjustified bans to lift them immediately.
We would like to caution against making dire predictions, which this version of the report does, of sharp increases in future trade remedy actions generally, and anti-dumping actions in particular. Given the current crisis, it would not be surprising if there were increased instances of dumping causing consequent injury in export markets. However, as is clearly demonstrated in the report, the incidence of anti-dumping initiations remains well below previous peak levels.
We would also like to caution against taking positions on developments in those aspects of the financial sector that are outside the WTO’s competency, such as the speed with which countries should remove crisis measures (paragraph 75).
As more Members contribute to this process, we understand that the challenge faced by the Secretariat in putting such a report together also grows. After three reports, we see some room for a few improvements. We have two comments to improve the usefulness of the reports:
When reporting measures, we should all strive to include the most detailed sourcing possible, and move beyond general notations such as “press reports” or “Forbes.com.”
Also, the “Date” header in the Annexes could be clarified. Is this the date of the measure or the date of the press reporting on it?
Finally, we appreciate Director General Lamy’s continuing efforts to raise awareness, in his words, of the WTO as “a living organism” with a distinct role to play in reacting to these kinds of global challenges.