September 10,2003

Baucus Heads to WTO Ministerial, Key Trade Issues at Stake

(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus, Ranking Member of Senate Finance Committee,departs tomorrow to attend the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Mexico.The WTO sets and enforces international trade rules for nearly 150 member countries.

Within the WTO, countries negotiate to lower trade barriers and level the playing field for trade.The current Doha Round of trade negotiations began in November 2001 and is scheduled toconclude at the end of 2005.

Baucus will be the most senior member of the Senate Finance Committee participating inthe Ministerial. The Finance Committee is responsible for setting international trade policy. Baucustoday emphad the need for U.S. representatives to remain focused on moving forward withimportant negotiations, while not making unnecessary or unwarranted concessions.

"This Ministerial Meeting is a critical step toward a final agreement," Baucus said. "Weneed to see some movement -- particularly from the European Union -- on key issues. At the sametime, we must focus on the end goal, which is a good agreement. We shouldn't be unilaterallyconceding issue for the sake of a good meeting.

"Since the Round began two years ago, we have made some important progress – but muchmore work must be done if we want these negotiations to bring significant commercial gains forAmerican farmers, workers, and businesses," Baucus added.

While attending the WTO meetings, Baucus plans to meet with delegations from a numberof countries, including Mexico, China, and the Middle East, to press important trade priorities."A lot is at stake in the WTO. In the key area of agriculture, we need to guard againstbacksliding from the United States’ goals of true market reform and real gains in market access. Onindustrial goods and services, we need to push for the greatest possible degree of tradeliberalization. We need to stand firm aga inst efforts to water down WTO protections for sciencebasedfood safety rules, intellectual property rights, and trade remedies.

"This WTO meeting is a critical opportunity to energize efforts to expand internationaltrade," said Baucus. "As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I'll be there to makesure that the interests of Montana and of the nation are reflected in the outcome."