The office covers all bilateral, regional, and global trade negotiations and disputes relating to agricultural products, food safety issues, and food assistance policy. U.S. farmers and ranchers produce some of the most competitive, high-quality farm products in the world. AGP ensures fair access for U.S businesses to foreign markets by using diplomacy to open – and keep open – markets for U.S. agricultural products. We discuss barriers to agricultural trade directly with trading partners and support multilateral trade negotiations to reduce such barriers. Our efforts include:
Compliance With International Trade Obligations and Development of Agricultural Policy Best Practices
Our office partners with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the Committee on Agriculture at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address actions and policies that may contradict WTO rules and disadvantage U.S. producers in areas such as agricultural subsidies and market access. We also work with the USDA to develop guidelines and best practices at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Committee for Agriculture, which studies farm practices, agricultural policy, and food security issues.
Our office participates on the U.S. delegation to the WTO Committee on Agriculture (COA), which meets quarterly in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. delegation advocates for improved market access for U.S. agricultural products, calls on other countries to abide by their WTO obligations, and defends U.S. agricultural policies. In addition to the official WTO meetings, the delegation meets individually with trading partners to discuss trade irritants in a less formal setting. The U.S. Trade Representative takes the lead in WTO COA negotiations, and the Department of Agriculture also plays an integral role.
Food safety standards include sanitary measures, which protect human and animal health, and phytosanitary measures, which protect plant health. Many countries create sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that go beyond what is necessary and use them as protectionist trade barriers. Our office works with USTR, USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency to combat protectionist SPS measures at the WTO’s SPS Committee. The interagency team engages directly with trading partners on protectionist measures and negotiates SPS chapters in free trade agreements to ensure commitments are science-based and least trade restrictive.