The National Corn Growers Association continues to support U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab's position that other nations must step forward and make bold proposals in order to bring the World Trade Organization Doha Round talks back to life.

According to news reports, Schwab emphasized in a speech yesterday the United States wants a new world trade deal, but it will not be the first country to make another agricultural offer.

"Calls for the U.S. to go first? Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt. Didn't work," Schwab said.

NCGA President Ken McCauley said it is encouraging to hear the lead negotiator defend the United States' initial proposal, which was presented last October to WTO members.

"Ambassador Schwab is going to bat for U.S. producers," McCauley said. "The United States has made its proposal, which is quite bold. It has been on the table for almost one year, and no other country has come close to offering the cuts that U.S. agriculture is willing to make."

The WTO talks have been stalled since July. No formal negotiations have been held since then, but the European Union Chief Trade Negotiator Peter Mandelson was in Washington, D.C., last week to meet with Schwab, Congress and the USDA.

"NCGA has told Congress, USDA and USTR that the EU must provide more market access for U.S. agriculture exports," McCauley said. "We continue to support the current U.S. proposal, and in the meantime, we will continue to work with President George W. Bush's administration and industry groups in securing beneficial bilateral trade agreements."

McCauley said time is of the essence for reaching a WTO agreement. President George W. Bush has trade promotion authority through July 2007. TPA allows Bush to negotiate international trade agreements free from Congressional amendments. The agreements are subjected to an up-or-down vote. Congress decides whether to extend Bush's TPA or let it expire in July 2007.

SOURCE: NCGA news release.