WARSAW, Poland -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today met with government leaders in Poland to discuss the need for progress in the WTO negotiations and the importance of biotechnology to trade.

"I was very pleased to meet with some of Poland's top leaders to urge them to demonstrate flexibility and courage as we work toward a WTO agreement," said Johanns. "I highlighted the high tariffs imposed by many European Union countries, compared to our open marketplace, and the need for fair trade.

"I also shared with Polish leaders information about the incredible advances in U.S. agriculture credited to biotechnology, not the least of which is the phenomenal increase in productivity. I was very candid about my belief that biotechnology could help Poland to achieve its goal of being a bigger player in the global market, as would a successful conclusion to the Doha Round."

Poland joined the European Union (EU) in May 2004. Approximately 16 percent of working Poles are employed on farms, the highest percentage of any country in the EU. U.S. imports of Polish agricultural products reached a record $221 million in 2005.

New government leaders were elected in Poland in the fall of 2005. Johanns met with Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Krzysztof Jurgiel, Minister of Environment Jan Szyszko, Under Secretary of Economy Andrzej Kaczmarek. Johanns met with the Chair of Poland's Senate Agriculture Committee, Jerzy Chroscikowski, and a representative from the Sejm Agricultural Committee.

Johanns also met with agribusiness leaders in Poland to discuss agricultural issues there and opportunities to further strengthen the relationship between Poland and the U.S.

Johanns now continues on to Berlin, where he will meet with German officials tomorrow.

SOURCE: USDA news release.