Like others we would also like to warmly welcome the delegation of the United States to this 9th review of US trade policy. We also join in expressing our thanks to the US government and the WTO Secretariat for the two very interesting reports that lay the basis for this review, and would like to thank Ambassador Peter Allgeier for his very comprehensive and most useful introduction. I would also like to express our thanks to Ambassador Claudia Uribe for her insightful remarks as discussant.
Even in this era of rapidly changing dynamics in the world’s trading patterns, the United States continues to be hugely influential in the global economy. The magnitude of trade and investment flows in and out of the United States has a significant impact on all WTO members, directly or indirectly. This is certainly also the case for Norway. It is therefore with great interest that we have studied the reports on the trade policy and trading environment of the United States, and we have also submitted written questions. Allow me to briefly make some general remarks and raise a few points that are of particular concern to us. That said, those are not the only concerns we have, but we do not repeat them today. Our view on for instance “zeroing” we believe are well known to the US and others.
The United States has been a motor of international trade negotiations and has always been a key player in both launching and in ensuring the successful outcome of previous rounds of negotiations. Our hope that the United States will continue to show leadership in these important and challenging times ahead of us as we continue our work to bring the Doha Round negotiations forward, has ben confirmed by Ambassador Allgeier today. We welcome that very much.
As evidenced in the reports, the United States has a very open economy, with low tariffs and generally few restrictions on trade in goods and services as well as for foreign investment. This is indeed very commendable, and the importance of this to the world economy cannot be overstated.
As noted in the Secretariat’s report the performance of the US economy during most of the period under review was solid until serious problems came to the fore early in 2008. The housing downturn and associated credit turmoil triggered an aggressive monetary policy response which could prove to be a challenge in a landscape of rising inflationary pressures, in the US and globally. In any case the efforts made by the United States to deal with this challenging situation are followed with great interest by other countries due to the impact the economic development will have on the rest of the world. The latest assessments of the further developments in that regard makes us cautiously optimistic. The macroeconomic policyresponse together with the easing of the monetary policy is expected to take effct as 2008 unfolds giving reasons to expect that the second half of this year might see a turn to the better, as Ambassador Allgeier also foreshadowed.
Chair, turning to trade policy proper, we are of the view that certain aspects of United States trade policy have given, and continue to give, some reason for concern to us.
We commend the policy of the US regarding Foreign Direct Investment. We do however have some concerns related to the implementation of FINSA (The Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007) which was signed by the President in July 2007. Although we recognize the need for measures to protect national security, it is important that these measures are transparent and that the processes of review that the FINSA allows for, in practice will be sufficiently predictable. We are concerned that the present legislation and the regulations that are proposed by the Treasury this spring do not fully meet our expectations in that regard.
The US is an important market for Norwegian exports of fish and fish products.
A longstanding obstacle for Norwegian imports into the US market continues to be the anti-dumping and countervailing measures imposed on whole, fresh Norwegian salmon. The measures were first introduced in 1991, 17 years ago. In our view, there is no basis for the application of the US measures on Norwegian salmon. The US practice relating to “sunset reviews” appears to result in a rather automatic “roll over” every 5 years.
The situation today is very different compared to the early 1990’s when Norwegian salmon exports to the US market were substantial. Today Norway’s share of the market is marginal. We furthermore note that the “domestic producers” of salmon in the US, mainly involves one single foreign-owned company which is a major supplier of its own imported salmon to the US, and only has a very limited production in the US. The result of these measures has been the substitution of Norwegian suppliers of salmon to the US market by other foreign suppliers to the detriment of Norwegian exporters but also to the US consumers and the US processing industry.
Thirdly, maritime transport is important for Norway. Maritime transport constitutes the backbone of world trade. This should also be properly reflected by commitments of the Member States in the schedules under the GATS. Norway appreciates that the US market for international maritime transportation, with some exemptions, is open for foreign participants. We will therefore use this occasion to encourage the US to engage constructively in the negotiations on maritime services. In particular we would like to see a favourable response to the plurilateral request in maritime transport that has been forwarded to United States by some Member States, including Norway.
In conclusion, we are confident that this review will be useful both for the United States and other participants, and look forward to receiving answers to our comments here today, and we are grateful for the received answeres to our written questions which we will study in detail.
Thank you, Chair.