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

Media release

Sunday, 18 December 2005 - MVT94/2005

Progress at World Trade Talks


Speaking at the end of the 6th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, said today that an agreement to set deadlines to finalise agricultural market access was a significant step in the right direction.

Mr Vaile said, "Improved access to the world's markets for Australia's farmers has been one of Australia's highest trade priorities.

"Given the lack of progress over recent months our expectations coming into this meeting were not high, so to negotiate these commitments is certainly a step in the right direction.  These deadlines must be met."

Mr Vaile also welcomed the agreement on 2013 as an end date for the total elimination of agricultural export subsidies.

"This is a positive breakthrough given Australia has been pursuing this issue for 50 years. 

"Liberalising world trade will not only provide Australian farmers with the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, but will also help hundreds of millions of poor people in developing countries trade their way out of poverty."

Mr Vaile said he was pleased there had been progress to liberalise trade in manufactured goods and services, areas where Australia had significant export interests.

"Ministers have agreed on a tariff cutting formula for manufactured goods that should provide new market access for our exporters.

"On a positive note I am pleased that Australia's state trading enterprises, including the AWB single desk, have not been compromised in the negotiations, further confirming our view that they are not trade-distorting.

"We have also reached agreement that developed nations will provide duty free and quota free access for the 50 Least Developed Countries, which Australia has already done, and that cotton will receive special treatment to assist struggling producers in West Africa.

"Australia remains committed to ambitious results in the Doha Round and fought hard in Hong Kong to preserve the high level of ambition to securing new commercial opportunities for our exporters.

"Strong political commitment will be needed not only by the EU but all parties early in 2006."


Contacts: Carissa Buckland 02 6277 7420 or Richard Forbes (Hong Kong) 0418 273475

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