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More Trade Agreements Set For The New Year

posted on December 29, 2006

Trade also ranked near the top of the rural news agenda in 2006. The big story, of course, was the collapse of the so-called, Doha round of World Trade Organization talks. Initiated in 2001, the negotiations brought high hopes that WTO members could boost the world's economy by knocking down trade barriers and opening access to foreign markets. Free trade advocates claimed more liberalized global trade would boost the world's economy and reduce poverty and hunger. But the talks broke down in July, when the 149 member nations of the WTO failed to come to terms over farm subsidy reforms. Nevertheless, negotiations have led to breakthroughs in other arenas. In China, for instance, where the U.S. is hampered by a single-nation trade deficit of more than $200 billion annually, 2007 is slated to bring modest changes in trade policy.
More Trade Agreements Set For The New Year Beginning next week, China plans to reduce tariffs on agricultural commodities by a little more than 15 percent and industrial goods by almost 9 percent. Even with lower trade barriers, China's will continue to limit wheat, rice, corn, and cotton imports.

The new trade measures were bolstered by news The People's Bank of China will now focus on keeping the Yuan (you-ON) stable. Though this would appear to be good news, no specific timetable has been given for implementing a new fiscal policy. Some U.S. commodity groups have accused China of manipulating its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage.

Last week, U.S. Trade Ambassador Susan Schwab announced a major portion of a bilateral trade deal with Panama had been successfully negotiated. According to Schwab, the agreement will eliminate 90 percent of Panama's tariffs on industrial goods immediately with the remainder being removed over the next 10 years. In return, the U.S. will receive easier access to Panamanian beef, pork, poultry, rice, and sugar markets.

Closer to home, Canada is hopeful that 2007 will bring increased cattle trade with the United States. According to the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, is now considering what is known as "rule 2." If approved, Canada would have the right to sell beef cattle over 30 months of age to farmers and ranchers in the U.S. The OMB has up to 90 days to review and publish "rule 2." Currently, the U.S. only allows the import of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.

Tags: agriculture China news Panama trade