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Daily News

June 24, 2005

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today (June 24) said he is optimistic that Congress will approve a free-trade agreement the administration has negotiated with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic because of an offer he has floated for managing sugar imports from the deal.

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June 22, 2005

The White House is poised to send to Congress this week final legislation implementing a free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries, setting the stage for action in the House Ways & Means Committee as early as next Monday, according to informed sources. This could open the door to a House floor vote next Thursday, which the House leadership is strongly favoring, they said.

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June 17, 2005

U.S. and European officials said today (June 17) that they would continue efforts to reach a negotiated settlement on a dispute over government supports for large civil aircraft.

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June 14, 2005

The Senate Finance Committee today (June 14) signaled its approval for draft implementing legislation for the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement in an 11-9 “mock markup” vote, which was made possible by the decision of Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) to vote in favor of the legislation despite his misgivings for the agreement’s sugar provisions. Thomas did so after receiving a letter from the administration’s agriculture secretary indicating an interest in finding a solution to the sugar issue, and Thomas told reporters immediately after the vote that he was reserving his right to vote against the agreement when it is considered for final passage.

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June 13, 2005

The U.S. and European Union today (June 13) blocked the establishment of separate panels that they brought against each other to consider supports provided to their respective aircraft manufacturers in their first formal confrontation over the supports in the World Trade Organization.

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June 06, 2005

The European Union and Japan need to signal how far they can move on reducing farm tariffs in order for World Trade Organization agriculture negotiations to move forward, a U.S. trade official said late last week.

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June 03, 2005

Trade ministers of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this week endorsed a formula backed by the United States and Canada for negotiating industrial tariff cuts in the Doha round, but opposed by key developing countries. The endorsement, expressed in a June 3 ministerial statement, shows strengthened support for the so-called Swiss formula, which would cut higher tariffs more than lower ones, Geneva sources said.

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May 25, 2005

May 23, 2005

New Zealand’s government today (May 23) placed on leave its Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Tim Groser, the chair of the WTO’s agriculture negotiating group, after he announced he plans to run for that country’s parliament for an opposition party. However, in a note to the chair of the General Council, New Zealand said it would continue paying Groser to serve as the chairman of the Doha round agriculture negotiations no later than mid-August, according to Geneva sources.

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May 20, 2005

The European Commission has submitted a proposal to member states for an amendment to World Trade Organization intellectual property rules that sources said is likely to be controversial with the United States.

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May 17, 2005

Chief U.S. Agriculture Negotiator Allen Johnson later this year will leave his spot in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where he has been involved in the Doha round of trade negotiations and in bilateral trade agreements, according to a U.S. trade official.

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The ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee today (May 17) expressed his support for U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization, but warned that decisions adverse to the United States are threatening to cause “serious trouble” in terms of congressional support for the WTO.

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May 13, 2005

A majority of World Trade Organization members have thrown their support behind former European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy to take the position of WTO director general and succeed Supachai Panitchpakdi on Sept. 1.

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May 11, 2005

The House Ways and Means Committee will name Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) as a replacement for newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman on the trade subcommittee. The announcement will be made prior to the May 12 hearing on Social Security, according to House Republican aides.

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May 09, 2005

U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Linnet Deily told staff in Geneva today that she planned to retire and would leave her position effective June 15 to return to the United States. Deily, a Texas native, was the first and only U.S. ambassador to the WTO under the Bush Administration.

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May 04, 2005

PARIS -- The U.S., European Union and three other key World Trade Organization members made progress this morning (May 4) in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement on technical work in the agriculture negotiations following the EU’s tabling of a new proposal, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told reporters today.

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PARIS -- The U.S., European Union and three other members of the World Trade Organization have struck a deal on a technical issue that has held up the agriculture negotiations of the Doha round and threatened to prevent progress in other areas. They reached agreement on how to calculate the so-called ad valorem equivalent tariffs, which will form the basis for negotiating agricultural tariff cuts.

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PARIS --U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman today (May 4) offered an outline of what progress needs to be made in the World Trade Organization talks by July to ensure a positive outcome at the Hong Kong ministerial this December. Members hope to reach agreements on negotiating modalities in agriculture and non-agriculture market access (NAMA).

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May 03, 2005

World Trade Organization Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi has appointed three arbitrators who will decide a critical aspect of a banana fight pitting Latin American producers against the European Union. The panel will decide whether an EU proposed tariff for bananas to be imposed in January 2006 provides market access at least as favorable as what these banana exporters enjoy now.

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PARIS -- After two days of talks, the U.S. and four other key World Trade Organization members today (May 3) still have not been able to reach an agreement on controversial technical work critical for the Doha round agriculture talks. This falls short of their goal to have reached a deal before a meeting of trade ministers from selected WTO members to be held tomorrow.

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