TRADE POLICY REVIEW: UNITED STATES
22 and 24 March 2006

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson


See also:
> Press release: Openness fuels solid economic growth


1. This eighth Trade Policy Review of the United States has provided an opportunity to discuss changes in U.S. trade policies and practices since January 2004, revisit issues considered in earlier reviews, and enhance our understanding of the current state of the U.S. trade and investment regime. Our discussions have greatly benefited from the whole-hearted engagement of the U.S. delegation led by Ambassador Allgeier, from the informed contributions by the discussant, Ambassador Mohamed, and from the insightful comments made by a large number of WTO Members.

2. At the outset, I would like to highlight the unequivocal recognition by Members that the U.S. trade regime is one of the world's most liberal and transparent. But no trade policy regime is perfect and Members took advantage of this review to engage the United States in a frank exchange of views about possible improvements to its trade regime. The discussions took place in a constructive atmosphere, and were greatly aided by the efforts made by the U.S. delegation to provide timely answers to questions which had been submitted two weeks before the meeting, and to other advance questions posed by Members. I thank Ambassador Allgeier and his delegation for their hard work in this respect, and for the U.S. attachment to the TPRM and its effective operation.

3. The interest shown by Members in the policies of the United States is evidence of its major role in the multilateral trading system, and of its economic importance as the world's largest importer and one of its engines of growth. In this regard, Members were complimentary of the strong U.S. growth record but expressed concerns about the size and sustainability of present imbalances. The United States acknowledged that an open trade policy does not provide the tools to deal directly with aggregate trade imbalances. The United States also recognized the desirability of gradual reductions in the size of current imbalances while preserving economic growth.

4. The United States was commended for its leadership in the multilateral trading system and the DDA, and was invited to continue exercising this leadership to facilitate the conclusion of the negotiations. Members welcomed the steps taken by the United States to comply with WTO rulings, but noted that in some cases implementation of rulings was pending or had been delayed. In this regard, the United States fully recognized its responsibility to implement adverse DSB rulings. The United States was also asked to submit lagging WTO notifications. The importance granted by the United States to its participation in regional trade agreements was stressed, with some Members considering such participation supportive of multilateral efforts but others raising concerns about its possible distortionary effects. A number of developing countries recognized the benefits they derived from U.S. unilateral preferences but it was also noted that this should not be at the expense of non-beneficiaries.

5. The U.S. trade regime was acknowledged as being generally open, but concerns remained in areas such as tariff peaks, non-ad valorem duties, and the administration of tariff quotas. These measures seemed to affect in particular textiles and clothing and agricultural products. Several Members also described certain technical regulations and SPS measures as significant impediments to trade. Members also raised the issue of restrictions on government procurement including at the sub-federal level.

6. Members expressed concern about the continued active use of anti-dumping measures, and the additional bond requirements introduced in 2004. While Members noted that investigation initiations had declined, the United States was urged to exercise restraint in initiating new investigations. Members also voiced some worry about government support to agriculture, noting that trade distorting forms of support were still significant and might have risen recently. The United States was invited to seize the opportunity for reform provided by the expiration of the 2002 Farm Act next year. The United States was also urged to notify up-to-date information on domestic support, including for programmes under the 2002 Farm Act.

7. Members noted that security considerations continued to play a prominent role in the formulation of U.S. trade and investment policy. Thus, they urged the United States to ensure that security-related initiatives are non-discriminatory and as least trade-restrictive as possible. The United States committed itself to ensuring that security-related measures were implemented in a manner that minimizes disruptions to legitimate commerce. The United States also committed itself to maintaining an attractive FDI environment, recognizing the significant benefits that such investment brings.

8. Regarding services, comments were mainly made with respect to telecommunications, maritime and air transport, financial services, as well as professional services and movement of natural persons. On maritime transport, some Members asked the United States to review the Jones Act, and to table an offer in the context of the ongoing service negotiations.

9. In closing, I would like to thank again the U.S. delegation for the oral and written responses provided during the meeting; we all look forward to receiving answers on outstanding questions. The wide interest shown by Members in this review reflects the vital importance of the United States to the multilateral trading system. It also demonstrates the value of the TRPM even for Members which, like the United States, maintain largely open and transparent trade and investment regimes. This review has highlighted a number of possible improvements to the U.S. regime, many of which could be brought about as part of the DDA negotiations. In this regard, I am heartened by the statement by the United States that its long run economic interests have been very well served by openness. I am also encouraged by the stated willingness of the United States to take political risks to achieve, this year, a mutually beneficial outcome to the DDA, something I would urge all Members to do.