Statement by Ambassador Dennis Shea,
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the WTO
Geneva, June 18, 2018
– As prepared for delivery –
Thank you, Chair.
On behalf of the United States, I would like to join others in warmly welcoming State Secretary Marianne Hagen and the rest of the delegation for this trade policy review of Norway. We look forward to insightful discussions during Norway’s seventh Trade Policy Review.
The United States and Norway enjoy a long tradition of friendly relations, based on shared values and principles, including a robust trade and investment relationship. Our two countries have an active history of cooperation, and we each appreciate the powerful role that international trade plays in global economic and political stability. We look to continuing this tradition and finding new ways to expand trade and investment between our two countries.
This review provides an excellent opportunity to recognize Ambassador Neple for his many contributions to the work of the WTO during his time in Geneva, sustaining a long tradition of such Norwegian leadership. We especially appreciate his service as General Council Chair [and I have personally appreciated his honest counsel during my first months here]. In addition, I would like to commend Norway for the central role and considerable expertise it has brought to our ongoing negotiations on fisheries subsidies.
As we have seen in previous reviews, the Norwegian economy is among the world’s most advanced and prosperous, characterized by high living standards and a highly skilled labor force. Norway remains an open and prosperous nation; however, as we have also seen in previous reviews, the agricultural sector remains highly protected from global competition through tariffs, government support, and SPS measures.
While Norway maintains a liberal trade and investment regime, the troubling disparity between its openness to trade in industrial products and its high level of protection for agriculture, including through exceptionally high tariff protection, has remained unchanged since its last review. This disparity is also reflected in Norway’s approach, along with its EFTA partners, to the negotiation of FTAs, which eliminate tariffs on markedly fewer agricultural tariff lines than non-agricultural tariff lines.
The Secretariat notes that support to Norwegian agriculture is three times the average for all OECD countries, with 60 percent of farm earnings resulting from transfers to producers under agricultural policies. Much of that support is provided through distorting types of policies. We continue to encourage Norway to increase the market orientation of its agricultural production and trade policies, including reducing the share of production-linked support and increasing market access. These policy approaches would be fully consistent with Norway’s goals for environmental protection and rural development.
In addition to very high levels of protection for agricultural and food products, traders also encounter problematic SPS barriers in Norway. Norway prohibits the import of beef from animals treated with hormones, despite decades of scientific evidence demonstrating that this practice poses no risks to health. We would encourage Norway to reexamine its measures related to genetically engineered products in light of more than 20 years of experience with their safe use. We would also highlight the importance of science-and risk-based regulations, including for the registration and use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, and other innovative tools to supporting agricultural innovation and functioning trade in agricultural products, which are vital in meeting the world’s food security needs.
The United States is also interested in better understanding Norway’s harmonization of its standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment practices with those of the EU, and the implementation of its WTO TBT Agreement commitments. We have several questions regarding the process of adopting EU legislation and the implications for its use of international standards and its conformity assessment practices. We hope to obtain further clarification related to Norway’s regulatory requirements during the course of this trade policy review.
The United States has submitted advance written questions on certain aspects of Norway’s trade and economic regime. We have requested additional information regarding some of the points I’ve mentioned, as well as information regarding Norway’s notification of the EFTA agreement with the Gulf Cooperation council, status in joining certain treaties on intellectual property rights, the Norwegian Patent Act, and issues pertaining to Norway’s State-owned enterprises. We appreciate Norway’s responses to the questions we raised, and we are undertaking a comprehensive review of the responses in Washington.
In closing, the United States and Norway have important common interests, including our longstanding-shared support for international trade. We look forward to further information and discussions on trade matters with Norway, both here at the WTO and in our bilateral exchanges.