ALBANY — The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) joined 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders yesterday that called for continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The letter was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and Senate and House Agriculture Committees. It calls for effective WTO reform that would enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets and maintain transparency and accountability critical to future export growth supporting American jobs and identifies characteristics desired in the next WTO Director General.
Signatories of the letter include NEAFA, American Feed Industry Association, American Farm Bureau, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, Corn Refiners Association, United Fresh Produce Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and other industry groups.
“NEAFA recognizes the vital role world trade plays in a thriving U.S. agricultural economy,” stated John Clark, NEAFA President. “Continued U.S. membership and actively engaging in meaningful reforms assures that this important world body will remain as the necessary trade mediator it is intended to be.”
The letter notes the need for the WTO to institute updated rules in order to keep pace with global economic change and call for increased member accountability. A transition in WTO leadership presents the opportunity to successfully implement reform and reinvigorate its negotiating function under a new Director General, which is necessary to achieve progress on a wide variety of international agricultural trade reforms. The letter identifies desired characteristics of the next WTO Director General.
Throughout the WTO’s first two decades, overall trade in goods has nearly quadrupled while WTO members’ import tariffs have declined by an average of 15 percent. More than half of world trade is now tariff-free. The WTO affords U.S. agriculture producers and exporters most-favored nation (MFN) treatment in 163 countries, representing more than 80 percent of the global economy. Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in economic development of the United States and our trading partners.
–Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA)