Agriculture Press Release

October 27, 1999

Crawford to Attend WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle

TALLAHASSEE In an effort to assist Floridas second largest industry penetrate new export markets and trade on a more "level playing field," Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today announced that he will attend the World Trade Organizations Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Washington, November 28 through December 3.

Florida agriculture is a $54 billion-a-year industry second only to tourism and has a tremendous impact on the states economy. Exports currently account for almost 20 percent of production each year. Crawfords goal is to dramatically increase that number through discussions in Seattle, with heavy emphasis on emerging markets like China.

Trade ministers from 134 countries will attend the conference, which begins a new series of multilateral trade negotiations in the areas of agriculture and services.

"These negotiations are the largest ever to be held in the United States and are vital to the Florida agricultural economy," Crawford said.

Crawfords priorities in the upcoming round of negotiations are increased market access for Florida agricultural products, the development of special rules for seasonal and perishable agriculture, strict enforcement of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures in order to protect Florida agriculture from foreign pests and diseases, and tariff equivalency.

Last June, Crawford hosted Deputy United States Trade Ambassador Susan Esserman, and representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. State Department at the WTO preliminary fact-finding session in Winter Haven, Florida. More than 500 Sunshine State farmers and ranchers attended to speak with the trade negotiators about NAFTAs impact on their businesses.

"We will be taking the agriculture communitys concerns with us when we go to Seattle," Crawford said. "Many members of our industry have been hurt by previous trade agreements, and I intend to do all that I can to see that any future trade agreements are fair and equitable to our growers."


For more information:

Matt Dempsey

(850) 488-3022

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