Large Group Of U.S. Businesses Calls For New Agenda At World Trade Organization

“A top U.S. business group, frustrated with years of stalemate in world trade talks, on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to pursue a new agenda with fewer countries centered on services trade, health care and cross-border digital data flows,” Reuters reports. The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), “which includes big U.S. corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Proctor & Gamble, United Technologies, and Wal-Mart, has long pushed for a Doha round agreement among the 153 members of the World Trade Organization that would open markets in agriculture, manufacturing and services” but “those talks have been stalled since at least 2008,” Reuters notes.

“(We’ve) tried to come up with what we think is an appropriate agenda as we move away from Doha,” NFTC President Bill Reinsch said, “referring to the round of trade talks launched in late 2001 with the goal of helping poor countries prosper from trade,” the news service writes. The NFTC “is now pushing the United States to negotiate an agreement among just those WTO countries willing to participate — even if that excludes China, India and Brazil — to liberalize trade in services including insurance, banking, logistics, energy services, telecommunications and express delivery,” the news service notes, adding, “It called for similar negotiations in two other areas, health care and clean technology, where the United States has many top-tier firms” (Palmer, 2/8).