14 and 16 January 2004

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> 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 building.

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 inconsistent.

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.