The Cairns Group of Fair Trading Agricultural Producers today welcomed the participation of Ugandan Minister for Tourism, Trade and Industry, the Honourable Edward Rugumayo, at the 24th Ministerial Meeting of the Cairns Group in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
"Uganda has much in common with Cairns Group countries", Cairns Group Ministers said. "It has great agricultural potential in products ranging from sugar and coffee to fruits and cotton, and has made admirable strides in recent times in developing its agricultural sector."
Cairns Group Ministers noted however that, despite its own successful reform efforts, Uganda’s agricultural sector was being damaged by the subsidies and highly protectionist policies of rich countries. "This situation is patently unfair to Uganda and other developing countries who are suffering in similar fashion", they said.
"The Cairns Group’s invitation to Professor Rugumayo on this occasion is in recognition of the fact that President Museveni of Uganda has been a consistent and high-profile advocate for global agriculture reform to rectify this unacceptable situation. President Museveni has repeatedly emphasised that only substantial reform of agriculture will allow African countries to unlock the full potential of their agriculture sectors, boost the health and general welfare of their people."
Cairns Group Ministers said that Uganda, like the Cairns Group, was insisting that the promise of the Doha development round had to be fulfilled. "No sector is more important to the livelihood of African countries and other developing countries than agriculture. The support and protection lavished on farmers in wealthy countries, however, are imposing a severe cost on farmers in the developing world. These farmers need reform and they need it now," Ministers said.
Cairns Group Ministers noted that there were many similarities between the reform proposals of Cairns Group members and the proposals of the African Group, of which Uganda is a member. For instance, both had tabled strong proposals calling for substantial reductions in trade- and production-distorting subsidies by the biggest users of these subsidies. Both were also calling for the elimination of export subsidies. Tackling tariff peaks and escalation was a shared priority.
Minister Rugumayo said the WTO agriculture negotiations were of crucial importance to Uganda. "It is heartening to note that both the African Group and the Cairns Group call for significant reforms to the Agreement on Agriculture."
"I am happy that both the African Group and the Cairns Group are committed to work together to achieve a common goal," Minister Rugumayo said. "The African Group appreciates the positive Cairns Group proposals on special and differential treatment, and looks forward for support on the issues of concern to us during the agriculture negotiations."