WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, USA Rice joined 29 other organizations in asking the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to submit a proposal as part of upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agricultural market access.
reiterated the importance of the U.S. and WTO members restoring binding dispute settlement and within the agriculture negotiations, finding a way to break the impasse without weakening the current agreement. This requires stepped-up U.S. engagement and a willingness to work with a smaller subset of like-minded countries before seeking consensus from all WTO members.
The U.S. has consistently said that market access must be part of any broader agriculture negotiations package. Trade and market access are extremely important for food security; the WTO cannot and should not have a serious discussion around food security that does not include barriers to trade.
“In terms of what’s best for rice, it is 100 percent going to be market access. Tariffs are the single largest barrier to U.S. rice entering markets throughout the world and so engagement on market access means that we are seeking removal of those impediments that would help to facilitate more trade,” said Peter Bachmann, USA Rice vice president of policy & government affairs. “When you look at the market access for other countries shipping almost any product into the U.S., it’s wide open. Our import tariffs are pennies in comparison to most of the places we want to sell rice.”
The letter is intended to encourage USTR to look at viable options following the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) which will be held in February 2024. The groups said: “The United States could make a positive contribution by proposing a post-MC13 negotiating agenda that includes a robust market access component. Other WTO members have developed creative proposals around domestic support that are worth exploring if coupled with commensurate market access concessions.”
The letter was led by the Aggies for WTO Reform that USA Rice helped found in 2021 and expanded to a number of other national trade associations across the agricultural spectrum.