World Trade Negotiations Stall, Affecting U.S. Exporters

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“Each time a country lowers its import tariffs, we see an immediate and direct increase in interest in that country for food and agricultural products from our region. I can only imagine the boon to our industry if tariffs were reined in globally.”

-Southern U.S. Trade Association Executive Director Jerry Hingle

 NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An opportunity to open
 doors to global markets for southern U.S. food and agricultural product
 exporters was halted when trade negotiations deadlocked last week in

 Negotiators from the United States and over 30 of its trading partners
 worked intently toward reaching a final agreement on the latest World Trade
 Organization (WTO) round, which began seven years ago. They made
 substantial progress on 18 of the 20 issues at hand, but reached an impasse
 over the amount of flexibility that should be given to developing countries
 to increase import tariffs under special circumstances. Due to concern
 about abuse of the term "special circumstances," U.S. negotiators could not
 agree to the provisions. Concerned that it would allow countries to raise
 tariffs exceeding limits that were globally approved decades ago, thereby
 reversing years of trade expansion efforts, they concluded that a stalemate
 was the only alternative.

 The negotiations represented possible gains for American exporters of
 food and agricultural products. With talks suspended, tariff escalation -
 whereby an importing country charges higher tariffs on successive stages of
 production, sometimes reaching as high as 50% - will continue to exclude
 some U.S. exporters from many foreign markets. "Tariff escalation hits
 small exporting companies the hardest," said Jerry Hingle, Executive
 Director of the Southern United States Trade Association, a nonprofit
 organization promoting export development. "As they innovate their
 ingredients and packaging to better serve consumer needs, higher import
 tariffs price them out of these markets." Hingle is an appointee to a
 federal trade policy advisory committee and has closely followed the

 "Each time a country lowers import tariffs, we see an immediate and
 direct increase in interest in that country in food and agricultural
 products from our region. I can only imagine the boon to our industry if
 tariffs were reined in globally," he added.

 WTO officials have noted the extensive list of items on which the
 negotiators agreed, but the impasse has delayed completion of the talks for
 at least another year. "Meanwhile," Hingle noted, "free trade agreements
 between the U.S. and other countries - such as those pending with Colombia
 and Korea - may give local exporters a boost in these markets."


SOURCE Southern US Trade Association

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