NEWS from The International Policy Council
IPC, 1616 P Street, NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC, tel (202) 328-5056, fax (202) 328-5133



DATE: June 30, 1998                                                                                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Peter Lacy (202)328-5056


  International Policy Council Urges
  Regional Trade Pacts Conform to WTO Rules


    Punta del Este, Uruguay -- The International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade (IPC) has released a position paper setting out a strategy for incorporation of regional free trade agreements (FTAs) into the multilateral trade liberalization process. The paper warns that the FTAs developing worldwide risk encouraging high-cost agricultural trade within the regions involved and detracting attention from the more important task of multilateral trade liberalization in agriculture. With another round of trade talks scheduled to start soon in the World Trade Organization, it is important to ensure that regional FTAs--such as APEC, the expanding European European, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas--complement the WTO negotiations and give them top priority. This can be achieved by applying more rigorously the existing WTO rules on the acceptability of FTAs and customs unions; requiring countries participating in FTAs to ensure that third parties are not adversely affected; binding the common external tariffs of trade blocs into the WTO schedule of commitments; and having the WTO committees on agriculture and regional trade agreements closely monitor the activities of these blocs. Moreover, it is important that agriculture play its full part in regional trade liberalization. Quantitive restrictions on internal agricultural trade within FTAs should be removed and the use of export subsidies and internal supports should be restricted. In these ways, especially by respecting the priority of the multilateral system, the IPC believes that regional trade liberalization can play a constructive role in helping bring about a more liberal global trading system in agricultural and food products.

"The Role of Regionalism in Agricultural Trade Reform" can be obtained from the IPC at TEL
(202)328-5056 or FAX (202)328-5133.


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