U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today heard testimony during a full committee hearing regarding U.S. agricultural trade policy and the trade title in the 2008 farm bill. During his opening remarks, Sen. Chambliss said the hearing was an opportunity to explore current efforts to promote agriculture exports and the benefits of trade to our farms, ranches and domestic economy. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk was one of the chief witnesses to testify before the committee.
"U.S. agriculture exports remain one of the few bright spots in the domestic economy, with a balance of trade totaling almost $27 billion last year," said. Sen. Chambliss. "However, in order to increase agriculture exports, the Administration must do more than pay lip service to initiatives that lull us into a false sense of action. The President continues to sit on the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements. These FTAs are ready and represent real and tangible gains for the agriculture sector in the United States. If we are serious about promoting exports, the President should submit all three and press Congress for their immediate approval."
Sen. Chambliss also addressed the status of the World Trade Organization Doha Round.
"The Doha Round is at an impasse and has been for some time," said Sen. Chambliss. "It is due in no small part to what Ambassador Kirk notes as the continued resistance of some members to engage in sustained and meaningful negotiations. Let me state unequivocally that the deal on the table is insufficient and unbalanced from the perspective of the Congress. While other countries look to the U.S. to "give more' in order to re-energize the Round, I would suggest unilateral action will harden views in the Senate -- and particularly in this Committee -- that the Doha Round is fatally flawed. A successful Round is possible, but only when Brazil, China and India recognize that their rising influence in the international economy requires shared sacrifices in order to achieve individual and shared gains."
The hearing is the third in a series hosted by the Senate Agriculture Committee to review current farm law and implementation in preparation of the next farm bill.