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

Media release

1 August 2004 - MVT66/2004

Vaile Welcomes Step Forward in WTO Doha Round

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today warmly welcomed the agreement reached in Geneva early this morning on a framework to guide the final phase of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

"This is a very important step forward for the WTO. Australia has been working intensively with key trading partners to revive the Doha round since the setback in Cancun last year," Mr Vaile said. "A further failure would have had very serious implications for the world trading system and Australia's interests."

The framework agreement locks in the mandate for the Doha round and provides for detailed work to continue through the next year despite a change in administration in the European Commission and elections in the United States.

"This agreement means we have achieved a key Australian objective of keeping the Doha round moving forward so as to deal comprehensively with our global trade interests," Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile said that the agriculture negotiations were the key to reaching agreement.

"The framework breaks new ground by locking in a historic commitment by WTO members to eliminate agricultural export subsidies, which have had a tremendously damaging impact on Australian farm exports," Mr Vaile said. "It also foreshadows big cuts in the other farm subsidies provided by many wealthy countries, including a 20 % down payment reduction by the EU and the US in the first year after the negotiations are completed."

Mr Vaile said that Australia would continue to push hard in the next phase of the negotiations for ambitious market access openings for Australian agricultural products.

"On market access, the framework sets out an approach to cut tariffs and open markets which is much stronger than the proposal we were faced with last year in Cancun," Mr Vaile said. "We had argued strenuously during the course of the last week for a more definitive and detailed outcome on market access. What has been agreed provides us with a platform to continue to push hard in the next phase of negotiations."

The framework also opens the way for negotiation of new market opportunities in industrial products and services, and for new arrangements to reduce the costs of doing business.

"Australia will be pressing all sides to now move ahead quickly on these negotiations, and we will be working hard to ensure they deliver results that will benefit all Australian exporters," Mr Vaile said.

Details of the Doha Round Framework Package

Media contact: Matthew Doman (Canberra) +612 6277 7420.

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