Poor Countries Need Open Access to Rich Countries’ Markets, Say Nonprofits

Contact: Richard Morrison, 202-331-2273

Washington, D.C., April 16, 2007—The poorest countries of the world should have duty-free, quota-free access to rich countries’ markets, stated the Competitive Enterprise Institute and eight other U.S. nonprofit organizations in comments recently submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The groups, representing consumer, citizen and taxpayer groups, humanitarian organizations, and public policy groups, were commenting on a World Trade Organization decision adopted as part of the Doha Development Agenda to provide greater trade access for least-developed countries (LDCs).  The organizations are also participants in the Sugar Reform Alliance, an on-going coalition to reform the U.S. sugar program.

To improve poor countries’ trade opportunities, the groups said, all products produced in the LDCs should have open access to the U.S. market, without exceptions for so-called “sensitive” products, such as sugar.  The comments stated:

An expansion of duty-free exports from those countries would not threaten the economic viability of sugar producers in the United States, but would provide more competition to the benefit of the U.S. economy.

Opening the U.S. sugar market to imports from LDCs would help U.S. consumers who currently pay a higher price for sugar and sugar-containing products because of the import restrictions. Higher food prices hurt especially consumers on low and fixed-income and families with children. In addition, lower prices that competition could bring could help sustain jobs in the sugar-using industry. 

The comments also noted that current problems in WTO negotiations mainly relate to a lack of agreement on agricultural support and protection.  Breaking down protectionist barriers, such as those relating to sugar, could lead to breakthroughs in those talks, which “would bring benefits not only to the LDCs, but also to U.S. consumers and producers,” the groups said.

1The signatories to the comments are: Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers for World Trade, The DKT Liberty Project, Foundation for Democracy in Africa, FreedomWorks, Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, and the National Taxpayers Union.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.