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Extension of U.S. Trade-negotiating Authority (October 30, 2003)

Delegations to the World Trade Organization in Geneva are struggling, following the Cancun debacle, to find a basis on which to re-start the Doha Round negotiations. To most observers there appears to be little chance now completing the negotiations by the end of 2004.

If that turns out to be the case, it will be necessary for the U.S. Administration to obtain a two-year extension of its trade-negotiating authority, which expires on June 1, 2005. Many have assumed that an extension would be almost automatic.

A note for the Cordell Hull Institute by Richard Rivers, a member of the board, explains the provisions in the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Act of 2002 for securing a two-year extension of U.S. negotiating authority. (
Click here for the note.) Mr Rivers, a former General Counsel in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, was head of the trade law practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Washington, DC, in 1979-96.

First, the President of the United States has to submit to the Congress by March 1, 2005, a report that lays out what has been achieved under the authority and sets out why he wants more time.

The extension may be opposed by any member of the House of Representatives or Senate introducing a "resolution of disapproval". If no such resolution is passed, the President will have another two years in which to complete negotiations, including the Doha Round endeavor. But if such a resolution is passed by either house before June 1, 2005, the authority is dead.

What this suggests is that a major consensus-building effort will be required in the coming year, not only in the United States but also at inter-governmental level, if the Doha Round negotiations are to be "re-launched" in 2005 and completed by mid-2007.