24 July 1999
POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF UNITED STATES
and 14 July 1999
BY THE CHAIRPERSON
have had serious, positive and open discussions. Members
of the TPRB are clearly impressed by the United States'
recent outstanding economic performance which is
reflected, inter alia, in strong growth, low
unemployment and low inflation. No doubt, this
performance is partly due to the considerable trade and
investment liberalization achieved by the Uruguay Round
and WTO Agreements.
acknowledged that the U.S. economy is among the most open
and transparent in the world. This openness and its
recent impressive economic performance have meant that
the United States has played a pivotal role in supporting
the world economy in the wake of the Asian financial
crisis. At the same time, imports, often at lower prices,
have served as an important safety valve for the U.S.
economy, helping to meet domestic demand and subdue
inflationary pressures that might otherwise have emerged.
Further, foreign investment has enabled the U.S. economy
to grow faster than would have been the case had it
relied solely on domestic saving.
acknowledged that while the resulting large and widening
U.S. current account deficit, and difficulties faced by
some sectors (notably steel and agriculture), have led to
certain protectionist pressure, hitherto the
Administration has, by and large, resisted these
pressures, to the benefit of the multilateral trading
one senses that Members are worried that if the U.S.
economy slows substantially, and unemployment starts to
edge up, it may become more difficult for the
Administration to resist domestic protectionist
pressures. Moreover, given that the United States is the
world's single largest trader and the importance that
Members attach to its leadership role on multilateral
issues, delegations asked clarification or voiced
concerns about a number of features of the U.S. trade and
investment regime and recent developments therein,
particularly those of a unilateral or extra-territorial
nature. Among these features were:
the impact of regional initiatives on the WTO-based
the existence of tariff "peaks", often
embodied in specific rates, and tariff escalation;
some recent high profile anti-dumping (notably in
steel), countervailing and safeguard (inter alia,
conditions attached to the GSP;
import protection and the export enhancement
programme for agriculture;
rules of origin, especially with respect to textiles
speed and scope of implementation of commitments
pertaining to the ATC;
measures, notably 301 and related actions, aimed, inter
alia, at securing market access abroad for U.S.
actions by the U.S. in matters that have not fully
worked their way through WTO disputes settlement
extra-territorial application of U.S. and sub-federal
laws (including those pertaining to labour, health,
sanitary and environmental standards);
state-federal relations relating to U.S. WTO
protection of U.S. shipbuilders and providers of
government procurement, in particular the Buy
harmonization of U.S. intellectual property rights
with international practice.
has been brought to these issues and we look forward to
written replies on outstanding matters.
U.S. commitment to the full implementation, and
compliance with, WTO rules and principles has to be
noted. Although the above matters may appear to be
relatively insignificant for an economy as large as the
United States, some can have extremely serious
repercussions for U.S. trading partners, especially
smaller less-developed economies.
to the future, Members expressed some worry over the
Administration's difficulty, for the time being, in
securing "fast-track" authority, which many
Members perceived as a reflection of a certain erosion of
support within the United States for trade
liberalization. While noting the endeavours of the U.S.
Administration to build overall (domestic, institutional
and international) support for a meaningful, transparent
trade agenda, with the next Ministerial being hosted by
the United States in Seattle later this year, Members
look to the United States to demonstrate its
traditional leadership role in undertaking future
multilateral trade negotiations. Back