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

Media release

26 March 2004 - MVT17/2004

Commitment to World Agricultural Negotiations Welcome

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today welcomed completion of the first week of resumed World Trade Organisation negotiations on agricultural trade in Geneva.

"I welcome the broad commitment shown by WTO members this week in Geneva to work to reach agreement on a framework text on agriculture by mid-year," Mr Vaile said.

The resumption of negotiations follows the disappointing outcome at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun last September and subsequent efforts to restart the Doha Round.

"Australia is at the forefront of efforts to produce significant outcomes from the WTO agriculture negotiations and we and the Cairns Group held an intensive round of consultations with key WTO Members this week in an effort to move forward the development of a framework," Mr Vaile said.

"While the initial political signals are positive, much remains to be done over the months ahead if we are to achieve a framework consistent with the Doha mandate on agriculture established in 2001. Nothing this week has suggested that it will be an easy task. The discussions have underlined again that the European Union, the United States and Japan, as the major subsidisers, must show leadership and flexibility if we are to reach agreement on a framework this year. Their movement is necessary to ensure we have an outcome which opens up substantial new market access opportunities, eliminates export subsidies and substantially reduces trade distorting domestic subsidies."

Mr Vaile welcomed the cooperation developing between the Cairns Group and the G20 grouping of developing countries.

"The Cairns Group and the G20 have underlined the importance in these negotiations of a clear commitment to eliminate export subsidies on all products, as well as to substantially improve market access and reduce trade-distorting support," Mr Vaile said.

"We will continue to work together in a range of areas to advance these negotiations."

Media contact: Matthew Doman (Canberra) +612 6277 7420, Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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