Today, the 163 Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to abolish all agriculture export subsidies.
Meeting at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr Robb said, ‘This remarkable historic agreement will bring an end to more than $15 billion of agriculture subsidies’.
“For decades, export subsidies have threatened the livelihoods of Australian farmers. Their abolition will permanently remove a long-standing source of distortion in global agricultural markets.”
The deal will phase out export subsidies for agricultural commodities including sugar, beef, pork, lamb, dairy, wheat, rice, wine, fruit, vegetables, processed foods and cotton.
“This is a major win for Australian farmers. It complements the gains already delivered through the trifecta of free trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China. And will build on benefits from the Trans Pacific Partnership when it is implemented.”
“This is the first time in 20 years that the WTO has delivered an outcome specifically on agriculture. As Chair of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations, Australia played a crucial role in achieving this outcome.”
WTO members also agreed to put limits, for the first time, on the ability of WTO members to use export finance programs that distort agricultural trade. They also agreed to conditions to ensure international food aid didn’t damage global trade or production in aid recipient countries.
While this outcome is welcome, it is only one part of the bigger Doha trade reform agenda. There is no realistic prospect of concluding the many remaining issues under the current Doha negotiating framework, such as market access and domestic subsidies.
Mr Robb said, “There is merit in exploring new approaches to global trade liberalisation and reform, approaches that have the prospect of delivering substantial outcomes in time frames that are meaningful to business. Australian farmers can’t wait another 14 years to have other problems resolved.”
“The successful conclusion of the Information Technology Agreement this week – where the most interested Members negotiated among themselves –shows that flexible approaches can deliver global outcomes in time-frames meaningful to business . Similar plurilateral negotiations on an Environmental Goods Agreement and Trade in Services Agreement have also made good progress.”
“We want to work with other WTO Members now to find ways the WTO can deliver faster outcomes from negotiations. This is what all Members need from the WTO if global trade rules are to bolster economic growth.”
Mr Robb praised Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed for her leadership throughout these challenging negotiations and Kenya’s hosting of the Ministerial Conference.
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