September 1, 2003
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FTAA - COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT
REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY
FIRST ISSUE MEETING WITH THE
PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY OF THE HEMISPHERE
THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
STATEMENT ON THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
OF THE AMERICAS (FTAA)
The American Farm Bureau Federation remains committed
to a successful and positive negotiation for agriculture in the Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). The U.S. Administration has proposed an
ambitious trade agenda, which includes the FTAA and many other Free Trade
Agreements (FTA), in the midst of current WTO negotiations. While we
believe these FTAs are important in promoting and creating new trade
relationships, our top priority is the current negotiations of the WTO. We
believe that any FTA currently in negotiation or planned for the future
should meet the same goals and objectives that have been set out by the
United States in the WTO negotiations.
Trade in agricultural products among the nations of the Western Hemisphere
could be expanded substantially, if the many and varied forms of
impediments to that trade were eliminated. Our free trade agreement with
Mexico demonstrates how farmers can benefit from freer trade. U.S.
agricultural exports to Mexico and U.S. imports from Mexico have both more
than doubled since 1993 as a result of NAFTA. The benefits of this trade
to the consumers in each country -- in the form of more variety, reduced
costs and often better quality food products -- also extend to the economy
as a whole in the form of added disposable income and new employment
U.S. agricultural exports to the non-NAFTA FTAA countries totaled $14.6
billion in 2002, about 27 percent of total U.S. farm exports. U.S. imports
of agricultural products from non-NAFTA FTAA countries totaled about $14.9
billion in 2002, about 36 percent of our total agricultural imports.
The U.S. is a bigger and more open market for farm and food
products. With a few exceptions, U.S. tariffs on agricultural goods from
countries in the region are quite low or free. In many cases, our tariffs
are already or will soon be free for products from FTAA countries under
various special arrangements (e.g., the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the
Andean Trade Preferences Act, the Generalized System of Preferences, NAFTA
and the Chile FTA). As a result, the average tariff applied by the United
States on imports from FTAA countries is certainly substantially less than
the average 12 percent the United States applies on imports from the
world. Tariffs and other forms of barriers to U.S. products in FTAA
countries tend to be much more restrictive.
As tariffs and other trade barriers are gradually removed by all of the
parties to the agreement, trade will expand both between the United States
and the other FTAA participants and among the other FTAA countries. The
fact that markets are being opened and shared among 34 countries will help
to ensure that any single country does not become a dumping ground for
other countries’ exports. More open import regimes and the economic growth
the FTAA will bring to the hemisphere will generate greater demand in more
countries for products that might otherwise flow to the United States.
We believe that any negotiation on agriculture tariff rates should be done
from the applied rate rather than the WTO bound rate. In many cases the
tariff rates at which U.S. products are entering other markets are well
below the WTO bound rates. Negotiating at rates higher than what are
actually applied could lead to lost opportunities and place many sectors
at a disadvantage in the negotiations.
The FTAA must provide for adequate transition periods for the elimination
of tariffs and other protective measures, as well as workable safeguards
to respond to disruptive import surges. Farm Bureau supports the staging
modalities for the tariff negotiations, with at least a 12 year transition
for the most sensitive commodities.
In regards to exclusion of agricultural products from the negotiations, we
support a position that all agriculture products should be on the table
and open for negotiations. Negotiations on market access must take place
from the point where each country has placed all of its commodities in one
of the tariff elimination categories. Negotiators can then carry on
further discussions as to how the import-sensitive products should be
negotiated and categorized.
The FTAA member countries should agree to ban the use of export subsidies
in agriculture trade within the region, both on internal trade and on
imports from non-FTAA countries.
We support elimination of the price bands that some FTAA countries
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures
In the area of SPS, we believe that major SPS concerns should be resolved
prior to the conclusion of the FTAA negotiations. True access is
contingent on resolving these issues.
We oppose the negotiation of domestic support in the FTAA. Domestic
support should only be negotiated in the WTO due to continued
subsidization by non-FTAA countries.