Former Minister for Trade
Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media Release

3 December 2009

Minister Crean calls for early ministerial engagement on Doha in 2010

Trade Minister Simon Crean has called for early political engagement in 2010 to conclude the Doha Round, following discussions this week at the Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference.

"While the purpose of this WTO Ministerial meeting was not to hold detailed Doha negotiations, Ministers have committed to meet again early next year, to enable us to conclude the Round in 2010" Mr Crean said.

"We need more than just a stock take of progress next year. We need genuine engagement to move beyond aspirational statements and tackle the hard issues. Our officials must also work harder to narrow the differences and set the platform for Ministers to come together again in coming months."

"Concluding the Round is the best way to provide global economic stimulus and important additional insurance against trade protectionism."

Mr Crean convened discussions among smaller groups of Ministers, including with services proponents, to build momentum in the negotiations, and to discuss approaches to achieve better market access across the Doha Round negotiations.

"I had good discussions with a number of key Ministerial colleagues. There was a recognition of the importance of an ambitious outcome in services and the need to explore creative ways to advance the negotiations."

Mr Crean emphasised the importance of aid-for-trade as being crucial to developing countries and their engagement in the multilateral trading system.

"Trade liberalisation is not enough for developing countries in itself. Capacity building is an essential link for developing countries, a key aspect of the work that we do in market liberalisation."

In the margins of the Conference, Mr Crean convened a meeting of Cairns Group Ministers to review progress in the agriculture negotiations.

"Cairns Group Ministers sent a strong message that a significant package of agricultural reforms is within reach. Ministers underscored their determination to close the remaining gaps in order to conclude agriculture negotiations in early 2010."

Cairns Group Ministers welcomed the offer from Uruguay to host the next Cairns Ministerial meeting in April 2010.

Mr Crean took the opportunity to have key bilateral discussions in the margins of the Conference. In discussions with the EU, Mr Crean welcomed the EU decision to stop export subsidies and expressed the hope that they would not be reinstated. He also insisted that the US follow suit.

Mr Crean also used the meeting to call for acceleration of work towards an agreement on liberalisation of environmental goods and services.

"We need to ensure the WTO remains responsive to the evolving challenges facing the multilateral system. An outcome that liberalises trade in both environmental goods and services will be an important contribution to Doha and ensuring trade contributes to tackling climate change."

"We are also working with other like-minded countries to tighten disciplines on the subsidies that contribute to overfishing on the high seas."

"This Conference also provided an important opportunity to review the work program of the WTO, to confirm commitment to this vital institution, and to discuss new issues the WTO would need to address in coming years – including energy and genuine food security, the environment and continuing trade reform."

Mr Crean signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen aid and investment ties between Australia and Colombia.

Statement released by Trade Minister Simon Crean in Geneva at the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference on November 30, 2009.

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