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Trade talks falter yet again

22 June 2007

“THE breakdown of the G4 Ministerial talks in Germany is an on-going blight on protectionist countries incapable of rising above their petty self-interests to take charge of the responsibilities they hold,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Ben Fargher lamented today.

“The G4’s failure will make it extremely difficult to make any headway in the coming Doha Round negotiations in Geneva... so, yet again, progressive nations, like Australia, understanding the vital need for trade reform, will be crestfallen.

“The tragedy of these failed talks is that they come at a time when the Australian farm sector is on the verge of a recovery.

"Our farmers, due to resilience, modern technology and environmentally-sustainable practices, are weathering drought and in a position to rebound. The latest ABARE crop forecast underlines our productive capacity, if we can get more rain.

“Added to this, is the fact that the Westpac-NFF Commodity Index* for June 2007 demonstrates that the farm sector is better placed on the world market than at any time since 1989, with prices at near 20-year highs.

“Solid rainfall across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia gives farmers confidence to put in Winter crops, and sets us up for, what Westpac describes as, ‘a big bounce back in 2007’.

“The albatross around Australian farmers’ necks, dampening this outlook, is those world leaders clinging to blatantly unfair and unjustified trade barriers and protectionist regimes. These block Australian exports and drag back the rural sector and, therefore, the Australian economy’s growth – not to mention their own.

“Today’s breakdown appears to have been caused by Brazil and India staging a walk out. Ironically, Brazil and India would be among the biggest winners from a successful Doha Round. To date, like several other countries, they have approached these negotiations with a ‘what can I get, without giving?’ attitude. The economics is in… it is in these countries own self-interest to reform!”

“The Doha Round must produce a result, but not just any result. It must remain true to its mandate with all countries ceasing their ambit claims to focus on fair and workable solutions.

“No matter how bleak Doha gets, Australian farmers will not give up this fight.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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