Press release: A
largely open economy but barriers persist in important areas
This seventh Trade Policy Review of the United States has provided a
fruitful dialogue between the United States and its trading partners.
The high level of participation by Members in the Review underlines
the key role that the U.S. plays in world trade. I should like to
emphasize that Members recognized that the U.S. economy has remained
an engine of global growth and that, in part thanks to its general
openness, has demonstrated strong resilience in the face of various
shocks since 2001. However, although counter-cyclical macroeconomic
policy had promoted growth, many Members raised the matter of the
sustainability of the twin deficits.
Members acknowledged the unique status of the United States in the
multilateral trading system, and were greatly appreciative of the U.S.
leadership in the WTO, of its commitment to trade liberalization and
to the successful completion of the DDA. In this context, many Members
expressed their appreciation for Ambassador Zoellick's recent letter
on how the DDA may be progressed.
Several Members were critical of the U.S. uneven record of compliance
with WTO rulings, pointing out that this could undermine the
credibility of the DSU. Members noted the growing involvement of the
United States in regional trade agreements, with many considering such
initiatives supportive of multilateral efforts while others queried
their possible impact on third countries and on the multilateral
trading system. A number of developing countries praised U.S.
unilateral preferences and the U.S. contribution to trade capacity
Members agreed that the U.S. trade regime is open and transparent, but
many noted that market access barriers exist in a few important areas.
Several Members expressed concern about tariff peaks, non-ad valorem
duties, tariff escalation and the U.S. tariff-quota system,
particularly in sectors such as textiles and clothing of concern to
developing countries. Various Members referred to certain SPS and
environmental measures as unjustified barriers to trade. Questions
were posed on other measures like customs fees, rules of origin,
labelling requirements, and trade restrictions. New U.S.
security-related measures constituted a major theme of discussion. In
this respect, concerns were expressed regarding compliance costs, and
Members urged the United States to implement security measures in the
least trade restrictive manner.
The continued active use of contingency measures by the United States
was a source of concern, and the United States was invited to exercise
restraint in initiating investigations. While satisfaction was
expressed for the recent dismantlement of safeguards on steel
products, following a WTO ruling, concern was voiced with respect to
the lack of progress in repealing other legislation found to be WTO
Another issue raised was assistance to the agricultural sector.
Members pointed out that the 2002 Farm Act was yet to be notified.
They were concerned about different aspects of the Act, including its
potential for increased market-distorting support. Members also
questioned the Act's compatibility with the aims of the DDA, as well
as the effect of export credit guarantee schemes.
Discussions on market access in services focused mainly on
telecommunications, maritime, financial, and professional services,
and on movement of natural persons. Members encouraged the United
States to review the Jones Act, and to consider tabling an offer on
maritime transport. Questions were raised with respect to the effect
that visa and qualification recognition requirements may have on
market access for foreign workers.
I conclude by thanking the U.S. delegation for the numerous oral and
written responses and explanations it provided during the meeting; we
look forward to receiving answers on outstanding questions. I hope
that our discussions in this review will contribute to our ongoing
liberalization efforts, to the benefit of the United States and the
WTO community at large. And I thank the United States for the
motor-role it has continued to play in the world economy.