HTML _ RL30789 - Agricultural Trade in the 106th Congress: A Review of Issues
29-Dec-2000; Geoffrey Becker, Charles Hanrahan, Remy Jurenas; 6 p.

Abstract: The 106th Congress considered a number of trade policy developments against a backdrop of weak foreign demand and large world supplies of agricultural products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the value of U.S. agricultural exports fell between FY1996 (a record year) and FY1999 by almost $11 billion, to $49.2 billion. Agricultural exports did climb back to $50.9 billion in FY2000, and are projected at $53 billion in FY2001. However, the pace of recovery has been of concern to many agricultural groups and their supporters in Congress. Although they recognize that many world economic and other factors influence exports, many of these groups believe that the sector's future prosperity also depends upon such U.S. trade policies as: 1) encouraging China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), with its binding rules and responsibilities; 2) exempting agricultural exports from U.S. unilateral economic sanctions; 3) fully using export and food aid programs; and 4) challenging foreign-imposed barriers to the movement of U.S. farm products. A few U.S. farm groups are wary of such approaches. They point out that, by maintaining barriers to U.S. imports and their own high export subsidies and internal farm supports, not all countries have fully honored existing trade agreements. In fact, some of these U.S. groups pressed for more restrictions on foreign farm and food imports. Agricultural trade issues of interest in the 106th Congress included: China permanent normal trade relations (NTR) status, which the United States had been renewing on an annual basis. A 1999 bilateral trade agreement between the United States and China (tied to WTO accession) provides for tariff reductions and increased access to the Chinese market for many U.S. agricultural products. To help ensure that the United States can take advantage of these potential benefits, the Clinton Administration gained passage of legislation in 2000 granting China permanent NTR status, effective upon its accession to the WTO. A new round of WTO multilateral trade negotiations. Although trade ministers, meeting in Seattle November 30 to December 3, 1999, did not agree on an agenda to launch a comprehensive new round, sectoral talks on agriculture did begin in March 2000. These talks are proceeding slowly. Funding for USDA export and food aid programs. A program level of about $5.8 billion is assumed in the FY2001 agricultural appropriation (P.L. 106-387). An exemption for agricultural exports from U.S. unilateral economic sanctions against 5 countries. Such a provision, with restrictions regarding Cuba, was included in P.L. 106-387. Trade disputes with the European Union (EU) over its banana import regime, its continued ban on imports of meat treated with growth hormones despite a WTO panel ruling that it be lifted, and U.S.-EU differences over environmental effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the safety of GM foods. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture, International, Economics & Trade

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