Statement of the 41st Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting
1. We, the Ministers of the Cairns Group, met in Davos on 23 January 2020 to drive forward agriculture negotiations in the lead up to the WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Nur-Sultan in June 2020. We warmly welcomed the attendance of Ukraine as an observer to the Group at our meeting.
2. The multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO is at a critical juncture and all Members need to step up to preserve its credibility. In this regard, we reaffirm our full commitment to agriculture as a fundamental pillar of the WTO negotiations and the reform process. Agriculture remains the most important unfinished business of the WTO and needs to be at the heart of ongoing reform efforts.
3. With half the world’s population involved in agriculture, including many of the worlds’ poorest and most food insecure communities, achieving more robust rules for agricultural trade would be an important contribution to addressing global inequality, providing sustainable economic development opportunities, addressing overall global food security needs and building an inclusive and effective global trading system.
4. We remain committed to fundamental reforms resulting in substantial progressive reductions in agricultural support and protection that creates a level playing field for international trade in agricultural products. That requires additional progress on market access, export competition and domestic support, as well as on specific sectors like cotton. Without such progress the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals could be impacted by further distorting agricultural markets, hampering farmers’ livelihoods and their ability to thrive and compete in these markets.
5. We must take concrete steps towards negotiations to achieve substantial improvements in market access for agricultural products, which continue to be particularly affected by tariffs and other market access barriers, in order to create more equitable conditions for international trade across the board.
6. We must address the unfinished business in export competition, strengthening existing disciplines so that the historic elimination of export subsidies is not undermined.
7. Achieving meaningful results on domestic support is urgent. Trade and production distortions in large markets fuelled by subsidies has a significant spillover effect into global markets and hurts trade-exposed and unsubsidised producers.
8. Global “amber box” trade-distorting support entitlements (the total of Final Bound total AMS and de minimis) have significantly increased from USD$341 billion in 2001 to USD$772 billion in 2016. The overwhelming majority of these entitlements are concentrated in just a handful of Members. If this trend continues, the total of all WTO Members’ subsidy entitlements could reach US$2 trillion by 2030. Other forms of trade and production distorting support remain completely unlimited.
9. To this end, we are seeking the WTO Membership’s commitment to negotiate a multilateral agreement that would cap and reduce by at least half the current sum of global agricultural trade- and production-distorting domestic support entitlements by 2030. These negotiations shall take into consideration all forms of trade and production distorting support under Article 6 of the Agreement on Agriculture.
10. As part of this new approach, we believe that the contributions by individual Members will need to be proportionate to the size of those Members’ current entitlements and their potential impact on global markets taking into account the individual development needs of Members to ensure the global target is reached by 2030.
11. The Cairns Group reaffirms that development lies at the heart of the multilateral trading system and agricultural trade reforms must continue to support the economic development needs of developing countries.
12. The Cairns Group extends an invitation to all interested Members and stakeholders to work together with us to achieve these goals.
*Agreed by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam; and Ukraine as a Cairns Group observer