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U.S. Proposes Talks Aimed At Improving Food Security At Upcoming WTO Meeting

“The United States said on Tuesday it was prepared to examine how agricultural policy reform could boost global food security as part of a package of commitments at the World Trade Organization’s [WTO] upcoming meeting in December,” Reuters reports. “‘The United States agrees with India and other proponents that enhancing food security in developing countries is indeed an important issue for this body to address,’ U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke said in Geneva, according to a text of his remarks released in Washington,” the news agency writes (Palmer, 4/30). “The U.S. Trade Representative [USTR], which has been pressing for freer trade in food in hopes of boosting U.S. exports, said it could agree that food security is a valid issue to be dealt with under the World Trade Organization talks,” Agence France-Presse notes.

“The issue, which had put especially the United States and India at loggerheads, has threatened to stymie the negotiations toward even a limited new WTO pact targeted for December’s WTO ministerial meeting in Bali,” according to AFP, which adds, “The USTR said that Washington would agree to the launch in Bali of a ‘work program’ to examine in detail the trade-related issues of food security.” The news service writes, “The U.S. said the program would cover security-related public stocks of food, price-setting, and the role of markets, public subsidies, export controls, and other issues” (4/30). “The proposed food security work program should look at how food security could be enhanced by ‘further liberalization in agriculture trade, reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, elimination of export restrictions, improved transparency, and efficient distribution systems,’ [Punke] said,” Reuters states (4/30).