Letter
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

The undersigned organizations appreciate the value and benefits of the United States involvement in the World Trade Organization (WTO). We support effective reform in this critical international body to enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets.

There is no doubt that the Uruguay Round, along with many other rounds, provided a more stable world trading environment for U.S. agriculture.

In 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. Over 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 over 80 percent of the global economy. The WTO provides rules to guard against arbitrary use of technical regulations or standards to block imports, such as actions associated with sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures that lack a clear basis in science and are protectionist in intent.

With more than twenty percent of overall agricultural production in the United States destined for foreign markets, U.S. agriculture is heavily dependent on exports. The existing WTO rules and the day-to-day work of its committees and secretariat to provide transparency and accountability from its Members remains critical to future export growth, for America’s farmers and ranchers, and the millions of American jobs – most of them off-the-farm – that are linked to and dependent upon U.S. agriculture.

While the WTO has been beneficial for U.S. agriculture, its rules have not kept pace with changes in the global economy, and improvement is needed to hold members accountable and improve the organizations’ governance. We appreciate and support efforts to provide needed reforms.

The present transition in WTO leadership is strongly linked to the success of WTO reform, and the opportunity to reinvigorate its negotiating function. Choosing a Director General with the ability to facilitate these reforms should be an overriding consideration in the selection of the next WTO Director General. We note other essential traits and leadership abilities critical to the evolution and success of the WTO moving forward:

• Proactive leadership of the WTO and advocate for rules-based trading system;

• Vision for WTO reform and resiliency in the future;

• Adept at navigating across disparate member country positions and demonstrated ability to build coalitions;

• Balance of political and management experience and acumen;

• Ability to explore creative solutions and flexible thinking; and

• An appreciation of the complexities of agriculture and food trade structures and global supply chains.

Today’s economic adversity in rural America underscores the importance of constructive engagement in needed WTO reform. The implementation of U.S. supported agreements through the WTO remains necessary to achieve progress on a wide variety of international agricultural trade concerns. American agriculture’s future continues to lie in expanding access to foreign markets and eliminating barriers to our exports.

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. As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.

Sincerely,

American Dairy Products Institute

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Potato Trade Alliance

American Seed Trade Association

American Soybean Association

Animal Health Institute

Association of Equipment Manufacturers

BelGioioso Cheese, Inc.

Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Cargill

Commercial Creamery Co

Corn Refiners Association

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative

Farmers for Free Trade

FMI – the Food Industry Association

Foremost Farms USA

Fresh Produce Association of the Americas

Hop Growers of America

International Dairy Foods Association

International Ingredient Corporation

KCoe Isom, LLP

Leather & Hide Council of America

National Aquaculture Association

National Association of Egg Farmers

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Barley Growers Association

National Confectioners Association

National Corn Growers Association

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Pasta Association

National Potato Council

National Retail Federation

National Sunflower Association

National Turkey Federation

Nebraska Grain and Feed Association

North American Export Grain Association Inc

North American Meat Institute

North American Millers’ Association

North American Renderers Association

Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance

Northwest Horticultural Council

Northwest Horticultural Council

Produce Marketing Association

Roquette

Sartori Company

Sweetener Users Association

Syngenta

The Hershey Company

U.S. Apple Association

U.S. Canola Association

U.S. Dairy Export Council

U.S. Wheat Associates

United Fresh Produce Association

US Dry Bean Council

USA Rice Federation

WineAmerica

World Perspectives, Inc.

Cc: Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee

Honorable Ron Wyden, Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee

Honorable Richard Neal, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee

Honorable Kevin Brady, Ranking Member, House Ways and Means Committee

Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry

Honorable Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry

Honorable Collin Peterson, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee

Honorable K. Michael Conaway, Ranking Member, House Agriculture Committee

Date Sent:

September 23, 2020

Sender:

Multi-Industry Coalition

Recipient:

Ambassador Lighthizer

Subject:

The value and benefits of the United States involvement in the World Trade Organization

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