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Yesterday I attended the launch of a new Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) study on the potential benefits of completing the Doha Round of trade negotiations. While I share that goal, and hope that Gary Hufbauer’s and Jeff Schott’s sharp analysis can help deliver it, it still seems a distant prospect. So, I was gratified to also hear lots of support—from both academics and policymakers—for the goal of providing duty-free, quota-free market access for the least developed countries (LDCs).

PIIE Senior Fellow Schott’s recent policy brief on “A Trade Agenda for the G-20,” also distributed at the meeting, plugged our recent working group report on global trade preference reform. During the panel discussion of the new book, two former U.S. Trade Representatives –Clayton Yeutter and Carla Hills, who served under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush during the Uruguay Round—called on the U.S. government to provide full market access for the poorest countries. Ambassador Hills pointed to the far more onerous tariffs imposed on U.S. imports from Bangladesh than from the UK or France, as illustrated in this CGD policy brief. Ambassador Yeutter argued that the United States should have provided such access for the poorest countries years ago. Both seemed to share my puzzlement as to why this has been so difficult since those countries account for such a small share of U.S. nonoil imports—less than one percent.

Also yesterday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report on “The Role of Markets and Trade in Food Security,” to which I contributed, that also calls for duty-free, quota-free market access for LDCs, among other reforms. This paper provided background for the recommendations on trade in the report of a task force on global food security, co-chaired by Senators Lugar (R-IN) and Casey (D-PA) and Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN).

With this sort of support here, and with the encouragement that Kaci Farrell and I received on our recent trip to Europe, the momentum seems to be building for getting this initiative on the G-20 agenda, if not in Toronto this weekend then in Seoul in November.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.