March Plurilateral Meeting
The 19 members of the Cairns Group reiterate their interest in the Russian Federation’s accession to the WTO and welcome the resumption of a deeper and more transparent plurilateral discussion of its agricultural support commitments.
In acceding to the WTO, Russia is committing itself to the ongoing process of agricultural trade reform established by the Agreement on Agriculture. This reform process involves substantial reductions in agricultural support and protection designed to correct and prevent distortions in world agricultural markets. Such reforms will significantly benefit Russian farmers by encouraging greater efficiency and responsiveness to world markets. These reforms will also help Russia’s farmers to compete fairly at home and in export markets by addressing the trade-distorting policies of some of Russia’s major trading partners.
As a group of nations representing around one third of global exports, the Cairns Group places great importance on maintaining the integrity of the agricultural rules. We reaffirm strongly our expectation that Russia’s domestic support commitments will be based on a much more recent three-year period than that for which Russia has provided data, and a period which is more representative of current levels and structures of support to its agricultural sector.
This well-established approach is consistent with the ongoing reform process in agriculture, as it ensures new Members move forward with reform rather than retreating to trade-distorting policies of an earlier era. It also ensures the policy transparency necessary for future monitoring and evaluation of agricultural support of new Members. The future ability to trace all Members’ future spending against commitments is of significant importance to Cairns Group members.
The Cairns Group insists that Russia bind its export subsidies at zero from the date of its accession to the WTO, consistent with the fact that Russia has not employed export subsidies in recent years, and in keeping with the WTO objective of removing this trade-distorting form of support.
The Cairns Group acknowledges that, in a period of transition to the market economy, Russia has faced challenges in its agricultural sector, including lack of physical infrastructure, shortage of investment capital, low incomes and climatic challenges. In dealing with those challenges, the Group encourages Russia to take full advantage of the opportunities provided for in the Agreement on Agriculture to assist this transition process. The provisions of the Green Box, if used in a minimally trade distorting manner, provide for extensive opportunities to tackle directly challenges in Russia’s agriculture sector while avoiding more trade-damaging forms of support.
The Cairns Group stands ready to cooperate with Russia in implementing market based measures that assist its economy and agriculture sector and which are in keeping with the WTO rules governing agriculture.