Statement on Proposed International Agricultural Trade ReformStatement on Proposed International Agricultural Trade Reform
July 6, 1987
Last month in Venice, I joined with the leaders of the other six industrialized democracies in calling for a major reform in world agricultural trade. All of us recognized that only by working together could we solve the problems in agriculture facing each of our countries. Today in Geneva, U.S. negotiators from the Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will present the most ambitious proposal for world agricultural trade reform ever offered. The United States will call for a total phaseout of all policies that distort trade in agriculture by the year 2000.
It has become clear that ultimately no one benefits from the current agriculture policies employed around the world -- not farmers, not consumers, and not taxpayers. It is equally clear no nation can unilaterally abandon current policies without being devastated by the policies of other countries. The only hope is for a major international agreement that commits everyone to the same actions and timetable. The heart of our proposal is the elimination, over a 10-year period, of all export subsidies, all barriers to each other's markets (including tariffs and quotas), and all domestic subsidies that affect trade. Farm policies that provide payments to farmers and do not affect pricing or production decisions would not be required to be eliminated. Finally, our proposal calls for instituting uniform food health regulations around the world to prevent nontariff barriers to agricultural trade.
I fully recognize that this proposal is ambitious, that the negotiations will not be easy, and that any agreement will not be painless. But if we are successful, agriculture around the world, once out from under the yoke of government policies, will flourish, benefiting farmers and consumers in all nations. Today, I renew my commitment, as I did along with all our trading partners in Venice, to achieve the goal of free agriculture markets around the world by the year 2000.