The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

Media release

Thursday, 15 January 2004 - MVT01/2004

Australia Welcomes US Push for New Effort on World Trade Reform

Australia welcomes proposals by the United States to advance World Trade Organisation Doha Round negotiations, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has written to all WTO members urging them to agree on a negotiating framework by mid-year that would enable the Doha Round objectives to be achieved.

"The letter from Bob Zoellick sends a strong signal of US commitment to moving the WTO Doha round negotiations forward,"Mr Vaile said.

"Australia is pleased to see the US focus on market access and recognises that an ambitious result on agriculture as well as goods and services is essential for the negotiation to proceed.

"In particular, Australia strongly endorses US recognition that agreement to eliminate export subsidies by a certain date is an essential ingredient of a successful round.

"Australia is encouraged that the US proposes to return to a more ambitious approach on agriculture than was offered jointly by the US and EU immediately prior to Cancun. This would be a significant development for the negotiations."

Mr Vaile said Australia would discuss the US proposals on agriculture with Cairns Group colleagues, including at the next meeting of the Cairns Group to be held in Costa Rica, 21-23 February.

"Australia also welcomes as useful suggestions USTR Zoellick's proposals on industrial and services negotiations, the Singapore issues and on how the negotiations should proceed from here," Mr Vaile said.

"I have spoken to a number of ministerial counterparts including Bob Zoellick in recent weeks and we strongly agree that we cannot let 2004 be a lost year -the stakes are too high for all of us.

"Australia stands ready and willing to work with all WTO members to move the Doha round negotiations forward."

Contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420

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