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Washington, DC—International aid agency Oxfam today welcomed Ambassador Robert Portman to his new post as US Trade Representative, and urged quick action to move global trade negotiations back on track.
"Oxfam looks forward to working closely with you to get international trade negotiations back on track," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America in the open letter. "Time is running out, and we must work hard to make the Doha development agenda a reality."
In the letter, Oxfam's Offenheiser recalled the failure of the Cancun Ministerial in 2003 caused by resistance among the developed countries to demonstrate necessary leadership and flexibility, and highlighted the necessity of compromise on the part of the US at the WTO ministerial scheduled to take place in December in Hong Kong. "The next few months are critical for the Doha Development Round," stated Offenheiser. "The credibility of the US and the success of the Doha Round lie in your hands."
Specifically, Oxfam urged Ambassador Portman to work with the USDA to end agricultural dumping and comply with a recent WTO ruling on cotton; recognize and support the right of poor countries to decide their own agricultural and industrial policies in line their own needs for development. In addition, Oxfam called for the USTR to shift focus and resources from pursuing regional and bilateral trade agreements toward promoting a successful Doha Round at the WTO.
"The Doha negotiations are about much more than providing new short-term markets for US products; they are about building economies around the world that will be able to participate in global commerce far into the future," wrote Offenheiser. "An agreement by the US and the EU to stop the dumping of excess agricultural commodities is crucial for a successful end to this round of trade talks and time is running out."