March 02,2000

Roth Statement on the Administration's 2000 Trade Policy Agenda and 1999 Annual Report

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today issued the following statement on the President's annual report on the trade agreements program, which includes the President's report on the World Trade Organization required under section 125 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act:

"The President's report, predictably, endorses the World Trade Organization's role in opening markets for U.S. exports and expanding economic opportunities for U.S. workers. The report also offers the usual rosy picture of how trade contributes to American economic growth and the benefits it provides American consumers. I agree with the President on those points and I am glad that the President saw fit to defend the role of trade in our economy as he did.

"What the report does not do, however, is provide an adequate accounting of the reasons for the failure to launch a new round of trade negotiations in Seattle or offer the constructive criticism one might reasonably expect to see regarding the WTO as an institution. The breakdown in Seattle raises a number of serious questions not only about the role of the WTO and how it serves American interests, but also how the United States reasserts its leadership in international trade generally. There are, in addition, a number of areas in which the WTO could be improved, most prominently in the settlement of disputes. Yet, the report does not offer any insight into what the President perceives as the weaknesses of the institution or what he would suggest in the way of improvements that would serve American interests.

"In my view, we are not doing either the cause of trade or the WTO any favor by sparing it constructive criticism when criticism is due. Any international institution in which we participate demands constant scrutiny and oversight to ensure that it continues to serve our national interest. I believe, the World Trade Organization does serve our national interest; it also deserves our best efforts to ensure that it continues to serve the interests for future generations of Americans as well.

"The point of section 125 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act was to ensure that the President analyzed the effects of the WTO agreements on our interests, assessed both the benefits and costs of our participation, and detailed his reasons for our continued participation. The President's report does not squarely address those questions. They will have to be answered before Congress faces a vote on the WTO."