Statement to the Trade Negotiations Committee
With little over a month remaining before the end-April deadline agreed at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong for the finalisation of modalities, the Cairns Group is concerned at the lack of progress in the agriculture negotiations.
If these negotiations are to be successful we must deliver more than paper reform - deep tariff cuts must be agreed in order to provide real commercial opportunities and cuts to subsidies must reduce current spending.
A substantial and effective result on both the market access and subsidies pillars is central to the success of the Doha Round.
Our farmers are expecting relief from protection and subsidies in this Round – not ineffective half-measures.
We need now to finalise provisions to ensure the phasing out of all forms of export subsidies on a volume and value basis and to cut substantially and discipline appropriately trade distorting domestic support , with substantial front-loading of scheduled commitments.
We are concerned that progress on market access continues to lag behind. We need urgently to agree on approaches to tariffs and sensitive products that break down the barriers which have for so long hampered the full development of agricultural trade. We also need urgently to progress our work on issues of importance to developing countries within this pillar, such as the Special Safeguard Mechanism, Special Products and Tropical Products.
We call again for the necessary political leadership to unlock the current stalemate on commitments and disciplines on both domestic support and market access.
It would be dangerous to assume that the significant moves that are required by major Members can be left until the eleventh hour. They cannot. We need urgently to see movement, and we will not be pressured into accepting a modest outcome at the last minute.
Rules and disciplines – or the ‘non-numerical’ parts of the negotiation - will be a crucial component of any final package in Agriculture. That is why we call for an urgent intensification of the work in Geneva and we reaffirm our willingness to make every effort we can to assist that process.
We stand ready to work cooperatively with WTO members to deliver an outcome which allows farmers around the world the freedom to build markets for their products, just as WTO Members for decades have done with trade in non-agricultural products.
Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay