Mr Chairman - You are obviously aware of the Cairns Group’s total commitment to making progress on the Doha Round this year. A number of Cairns Group Ministers were in Davos supporting the efforts to restore the negotiating process in Geneva. Some of our Ministers have been engaged in bilateral discussions to the same end to try to establish the basis for a full resumption of our work.
Happily, the Membership has now turned on the lights again in these halls. We should now be able to put behind us the debate about the status of the negotiations, and get on with the work.
Today we wish to reiterate our commitment to supporting you and the Agriculture Chair in your efforts to resume work. That work, in our view, should be comprehensive, across all the pillars, and should be conducted in an open and transparent fashion. Gaps appear to be narrowing in some areas but there are still substantial differences preventing consensus.
It will of course be essential that we see a considerable improvement soon in the positions of the major Members on market access and domestic support, both of which will be central to securing a comprehensive reform outcome. The Round has waited too long for that detail to materialise – it is now desperately needed, so we can restore momentum to the negotiations. On domestic support we will need significantly improved positions from all the major users, including the US and EC. On market access, we look forward to hearing more about how the EC and G10 intend to improve their positions – and we would hope that they will be transparent about their proposed treatment of reductions in each tier, and of sensitive products.
We are studying closely the US Administration’s proposals for the next US Farm Bill, and the extent to which they would move US farmers towards more market oriented agriculture. We recall the Cairns Group’s long-standing objective to phase out trade distorting domestic support. We recognise that the best means to encourage further reform in support levels in the markets of the major users is to secure a strong outcome from the Doha negotiations – in market access as well as in the subsidies programs of other Members.
We are of course continuing our own intensive work program internally and will continue to work to refine ideas and look for new ways to find convergence. We will also make all efforts to engage in outreach on our ideas and positions with other Members and Groups, and this will be an essential aspect of our work program.
Mr Chairman – this negotiation must deliver real change to the world’s farmers and real development dividends to those farmers in developing countries. The benchmark that must be used continues to be the same as we have maintained throughout this negotiation– meaningful change in agricultural markets through reforms to all pillars in accordance with the mandate. To do otherwise would prevent the Round concluding successfully and deny the Membership the significant benefits promised.