Northwest Horticultural Council
WTO Agriculture Negotiations
Objectives for the World Trade Organization
Doha Development Agenda Negotiations
The Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) represents the apple, cherry, pear and stone fruit growers, packers and shippers of Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The NHC strongly supports global trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization (WTO). The tree fruit industry depends on a healthy global marketplace and competes without benefit of either subsidies or tariff protection from imports. Successful negotiations to reduce trade barriers overseas are important to the continued competitiveness of our industry.
Tariff rates on apples, pears and cherries should be reduced to zero.
Liberalizing access to foreign markets is the NHC’s primary objective for the WTO negotiations. We support the complete elimination of all tariffs on apples, pears and cherries.
Nations that provide tree fruit products trade-distorting domestic support and/or export subsidies should not be eligible to list these commodities as sensitive products. United States apple, pear and cherry producers do not receive these subsidies. It would be unacceptable if foreign producers were allowed to escape WTO disciplines on market access, while continuing to benefit from trade-distorting support.
In the event that market access negotiations evolve into a form of request-offer, or additional progress in one sector is possible, we urge U.S. negotiators to make apples, pears and cherries a priority for additional market access liberalization. Prioritizing market access for our commodities will demonstrate a commitment to our producers who are most subject to free market forces.
Export subsidies should be eliminated immediately.
The NHC fully supports the elimination of export subsidies as called for in the Framework Agreement. We recommend the immediate elimination of these trade-distorting measures for apples, pears and cherries.
Export marketing programs such as U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) are not considered export subsidies and should not be eliminated or reduced.
Trade distorting domestic support subsidies should be eliminated.
The Northwest Horticultural Council supports the Framework Agreement’s call for a “strong element of harmonization in the reductions made by developed Members.” As the NHC’s members receive no trade-distorting domestic subsidies, harmonization for our products would only be accomplished if distorting subsidies were entirely eliminated. We are eager to achieve that outcome.
We further support the Framework Agreement’s call for product-specific caps on amber box expenditures. These reductions should also be product-specific and accelerated for apples, pears and cherries. In addition, the above commitments should be coupled with improved sectoral reporting and transparency requirements.
Trade-distorting subsidies and import protections cannot be justified on the basis of civil society, multi-functionality or other non-economic rationalizations.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement
The SPS Agreement should not be opened for negotiation.
It is critical to prevent the fundamental principles of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement from being undermined by allowing for consideration of non-scientific concerns in determination of the validity of SPS measures.
Special and Differential Treatment
Many developing countries are world-class producers and exporters of specialty crops and should not be allowed to claim special and differential treatment for apples, pears and cherries.
The NHC specifically urges U.S. negotiators to prevent Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey from claiming developing-country treatment for their tree fruit industries. The producers in these countries are in no commercial need of Special and Differential Treatment to compete in the global marketplace.
The NHC further urges U.S. negotiators to prevent economically developed members, such as the European Union, from using the Framework Agreement’s special and differential principles, including the preference erosion provisions, to shield themselves from the developed-member market access reform obligations that would otherwise be applicable.
We are concerned that the special and differential treatment for developing countries could also create a new arena of domestic subsidies (“enhanced provisions”) that will likely plague our industry and negotiations in the future. The criteria to define conditions for qualification of special treatment should be provided with specific time frames and should not be granted in perpetuity.