In October 2000, Craig Thorn provided testimony before the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade on two critical challenges facing U.S. agriculture at the time – a new round of WTO negotiations and international regulatory issues under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreements. While the specific circumstances have changed, SPS and TBT issues continue to be some of the most relevant problems facing agriculture.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
My name is Craig Thorn. I am a partner at DTB Associates. Our firm represents a number of companies and trade associations with interests in agricultural trade, but I am here today in a personal capacity to discuss the agricultural trade policy agenda for the coming year. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.
The views I will be sharing with the Committee are based on eighteen years of trade policy experience in the Department of Agriculture and the private sector.
Mr. Chairman, American farmers and agribusinesses have long recognized that international trade is vital to the economic health of their industry. Government has understood this as well, and both the public and private sectors have dedicated significant resources to various programs designed to improve U.S. export prospects. However, the ability of government and private industry to promote U.S exports or increase U.S. competitiveness is limited as long as the international market place is distorted by unfair and anti-competitive practices. That is why the trade policy activities of government are so important. It is up to government to develop and enforce trade rules so that American agriculture can take advantage of its natural competitiveness in the international market.
Because farm issues are politically sensitive in countries around the world, agricultural trade problems are always plentiful. However, the coming year will be a particularly critical one for agricultural trade. Among the many issues the U.S. will face, I would like to highlight two – the new round of negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the illegitimate use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other technical barriers to trade.