The nation's largest farm organizations have written the Bush administration, asking it to continue to fight efforts by Brazil and other so-called “developing” countries to garner preferential treatment in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations.

In the letter, the groups thanked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman for the “strenuous efforts” they and their staff made to advance the WTO negotiations on agriculture, including the recent ministerial in Cancun.

“Our organizations strongly support the goals of the Doha mandate and the leadership role taken by the administration to achieve those goals,” the groups said in the letter. “Despite the setback at Cancun, the WTO negotiations on agriculture remain our highest priority — constituting the only forum in which across-the-board market access gains, further disciplines in domestic support and the elimination of export subsidies can be achieved.”

The letter was signed by 12 organizations, including the National Corn Growers, the National Cotton Council and the American Soybean Association.

The groups agreed with the administration position that the second revision of the draft ministerial text produced by Chairman Derbez could have served as a basis for further negotiations at Cancun, although significant changes were still needed.

The letter continued: “In particular, we have serious concerns about developing countries' demands for indiscriminate extension of special and differential treatment and other means for limiting the implementation of new disciplines on market access, domestic support and export subsidies in any self-declared developing countries.”

Such provisions, the farm groups noted, would make it difficult to envision how further negotiations could result in significant improvement in overall trade reform.

Directed at Brazil

Although the letter did not name any countries, it was clearly directed at Brazil, which dubbed itself the leader of a group of 21 countries that demanded the United States and the European Union reduce their farm subsidies, while proposing no such reductions in their own or providing more access to their economies.

“Most disturbing in the developments at Cancun were the attitudes expressed by some of the more advanced developing countries and most competitive agricultural exporters.” The authors said.

“Despite having benefited enormously under the WTO system, these countries now appear convinced that the Doha Round should be a one-way street where developed countries make all the reforms while they, as self-declared developing countries, are required to do little or nothing regarding further trade liberalization,” the groups said, urging the administration to pursue WTO negotiations that address and correct this misperception.

“In the wake of Cancun, we do not believe that we can delay pursuing differentiation between truly disadvantaged and advanced developing countries until the final stages of the negotiations.”

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