Draft Declaration at WTO

Date: Dec. 17, 2005

Draft Declaration at WTO

"The draft declaration released earlier today by World Trade Organization Director-General Lamy is disappointing. The declaration which includes text on cotton, unfairly and disproportionately targets farmers in my home state of Georgia and across the United States.

"Before Hong Kong, I said the negotiations should proceed as a single undertaking and should not isolate any particular commodity. The text under consideration in Hong Kong includes three paragraphs that specifically target cotton for special treatment in the negotiations. Pointedly, the draft calls for the elimination of export subsidies in 2006 and reductions in trade-distorting domestic support more quickly than that generally applicable for agriculture.

"This development greatly complicates the negotiations and the support an eventual agreement may enjoy in Congress. I acknowledge the need to promote initiatives to help developing countries reduce poverty and spur economic development. But that cannot and should not happen by singling out cotton growers in the United States and placing their futures in jeopardy. Negotiations should return to the underlying goal, agreeing to an end date on export subsidies and increased market access in the European Union and around the world. There is no reason why French farmers should be able to hide behind tired rhetoric and false sympathy for their former colonies instead of matching the United States and offering increased market access for agriculture products.

"Throughout this week, Ambassador Portman and Secretary Johanns have ably represented the United States and agricultural producers across the country. They have a tough job and deserve the respect of farmers and ranchers everywhere.

"Having said that, I call upon Ambassador Portman and Secretary Johanns to redouble their efforts in the agriculture negotiations to reach a balanced agreement that substantially reduces tariff barriers. While the recent turn of events is discouraging, this is not the time to walk away from the table. Much can and should happen that can salvage the negotiations and provide a beneficial result. The Administration has to demonstrate how these negotiations will benefit farmers and ranchers across the United States, from Moultrie, Georgia to Moultrie County, Illinois. Events in Hong Kong have made that task harder and I will soon call Ambassador Portman and Secretary Johanns to the Committee to testify on current events and benefits to U.S. agriculture."

Senator Saxby Chambliss
Chairman, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee