Remarks by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Trade and Development
at the Second Working Session
of the 8th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference
“For the United States, the starting point of any discussion of trade and development is to remind ourselves that trade and development are mutually reinforcing, and deeply complementary.
“Despite the vigorous and at times stormy debates within this organization over how these terms fit together, we must never lose sight of the reality that trade has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, expanded individual opportunity, and contributed enormously to an acceleration of economic development across our planet.
“The WTO provides us with some amazing examples of trade’s power to promote development. In the ten years since China joined the WTO its exports have increased from $266 billion to $1.5 trillion. Indeed, the IMF projects that a handful of advanced developing economies will alone provide 52% of global economic growth (excluding the US) between now and 2016.
“This growth also presents us with one of the biggest challenges confronting our work on trade and development. A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not accurately reflect the realities of the world we live in. Developing countries are not the same, and pretending that they are contributes to the deadlock in our discussion on many of these important issues.
“The United States has no illusions about the difficulty of addressing this problem. But we do need, urgently, to start having an honest conversation about it.
“Likewise, we believe we need a more honest discussion about the relationship between trade rules and development.
“There is a lot of focus in discussions on development about exceptions and special flexibilities for developing countries. This is perfectly appropriate. But we need to take care not to focus so much on the exceptions that we lose the value of the rules, particularly given the importance of South-South trade.
“The challenges confronting LDC Members continue to merit particular concern and attention, and we are pleased that this Ministerial Conference will produce a number of Decisions intended to better integrate LDCs into the multilateral trading system.
“For our part, the United States remains firmly committed to Aid for Trade, and has obligated about $10 billion in trade-related assistance since 2005. Several of our initiatives, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Africa trade hubs, demonstrate our firm commitment to addressing the trade-related development concerns, particularly of LDCs.
“We also welcome the bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress reflected in new legislation, introduced this week in the Senate and earlier this year in the House of Representatives, to extend the third-country fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act tariff preference program and to add South Sudan as a potentially eligible beneficiary.
“The WTO should continue to make important contributions in food security, and we join other Members in calling for the end of food export restrictions for purchases of humanitarian food aid by the World Food Program. We fully support the elimination of all food export restrictions and will seek disciplines in the agriculture committee to address concerns from Net Food-Importing Developing Countries.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time.”