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

Media release

25 February 2004 - MVT12/2004

Cairns Group Calls for Faster Farm Trade Reform

The Cairns Group of agriculture exporting countries stands ready to work with all World Trade Organisation members to push for faster reform of global farm trade, Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today at the conclusion of the group's 26th ministerial meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"The Cairns Group has completed a very purposeful and productive meeting where ministers underlined their strong commitment to achieving significant agricultural trade reform in the current Doha Round of World Trade Organisation talks," Mr Vaile said.

"Real commitment is urgently needed from all WTO members to meet the ambitious goals for agricultural trade reform agreed to by all ministers in Doha when the round was launched. The major developed countries, who are most responsible for distorting trade, have a special responsibility to act."

Cairns Group ministers heard encouraging signals from WTO director general Supachai, US Trade Representative Zoellick and groups such as the G20 that they want to get on with the Doha negotiations.

The Cairns Group will work towards developing a framework text on agriculture by around mid-year.

Cairns Group countries sent a strong message to the users of export subsidies that export subsidies on all agricultural products should be eliminated without exception.

Ministers acknowledged that reaching agreement on a framework would require movement beyond what was on the table in Cancun on market access and domestic support.

"The Cairns Group agreed that all countries should make a contribution on market access, but with appropriate flexibility for developing countries," Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile said the group stood ready to cooperate with other groups in working to achieve significant reform of agriculture.

The meeting in Costa Rica was also attended by Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Derbez and the new Chair of the WTO Agriculture Negotiating Group, Tim Groser.

Australia has chaired the Cairns Group since its launch in 1986. Other group members are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.

Media contact: Matthew Doman (in Costa Rica) +506 352 8508, Brad Williams (in Canberra) +612 6277 7420

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