STATEMENT OF U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL FROMAN
December 7, 2013
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman issued the following statement at the close of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia, hailing the first successful conclusion of multilateral trade negotiations in the two-decade history of the WTO.
“In the opening plenary of this 9th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, I said that by Friday – one way or another – the WTO would enter a new era.
“It took us until Saturday, one extra day, but indeed, the WTO has entered a new era. For the first time in its almost 20-year history, the WTO reached a fully multilateral agreement. WTO Members have demonstrated that we can come together as one to set new rules that create economic opportunity and prosperity for our nations and our peoples.
“I want to commend and thank Roberto Azevedo, the Director General, who has played such a critical role over the last few months to bring us to this point.
“Today, we celebrate a new WTO not just because we have reached an agreement – but because of the way we did so. Throughout this process we have been reminded over and over again that we are, now, a truly multilateral organization.
“Varied voices have carried equal weight. Developed countries have partnered with developing countries to find solutions. Instead of seeing agreement fall into a chasm of division between rich and poor, Members at all levels of development, on a level footing, have built bridges for the common good.
“We have welcomed the close collaboration we have had with a broad range of Members, from the LDC group to the Africa group to the ACP group. Today’s result reflects that close collaboration.
“At times, this process has been far more difficult, far messier, far more challenging than seemed possible to overcome. But what we have wrought together is better for its inclusiveness.
“For a long time we have called the Trade Facilitation agreement a ‘win-win’ agreement. It is good for both developed and developing Members alike.
“The potential cost reduction of the trade facilitation measures in this agreement are estimated to be 10 percent for developed countries and around 15 percent for developing countries. Studies indicate that for every one percent in cost reduction, worldwide income increases by more than $40 billion, 65 percent accruing to developing countries. Some studies estimate the trade facilitation agreement we’ve reached here tonight will result in global GDP gains of nearly $1 trillion. That, my friends, is no small package.
“Under this new agreement, a small business, including those in the United States, seeking to break into global markets and increase its export opportunities will be able to do so because it has faster, simpler, and less costly access to 159 economies.
“Concluding the Trade Facilitation Agreement is a key part of delivering on the Doha Development Agenda, as is the package of development measures we agreed on today — from a monitoring mechanism to see how our trade provisions work to advance development, to enhancing technical support for African cotton farmers.
“The United States is delighted to have helped reach agreement on addressing food security issues.
“President Obama has worked tirelessly to put food security – including increasing the productivity and trade of agricultural products — front and center on the global development agenda. This commitment of the United States to enhancing global food security has been enshrined in efforts from the L’Aquila initiative, which mobilized over $20 billion for food security, to the Feed the Future initiative to the New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, which mobilized billions of dollars from the private and public sectors for agricultural reform in Africa. And now – in the agreement of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the WTO – we have ensured that efforts by one country to deal with their legitimate food security needs don’t cause food insecurity for poor farmers and consumers in other countries.
“For months now, there have been questions about the architecture and substance of the ‘post-Bali’ effort at the WTO. We have consistently said that in order to determine the post-Bali agenda, we had to know whether Bali itself could be a success.
“Now it’s time to turn to the post-Bali agenda. The time has come to ask hard questions, to determine what is next and how to get there. There will be difficult issues to grapple with. The road will be rugged at times. But we know that we can make the journey because we have succeeded today. We know that the lights are burning bright at the WTO.
“Now – let’s do it again.”