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Doha Round in Crisis

3 July 2006

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie has wrapped up talks in Geneva during a crucial meeting of trade ministers, leading a delegation of Australian agricultural representatives aimed at setting up the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations for conclusion this year. However, ministers failed to make the necessary progress.

Despite Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile’s best efforts and leadership in trying to focus ministers and negotiators on the core issues of formula tariff cuts, sensitive products, special products and agricultural domestic support cuts, it is clear no narrowing of the differences has occurred.

“Because of the lack of movement from the European Union on agricultural market access and, as a result, no further movement from the United States on agricultural domestic support, precious little has been achieved this week,” Mr Crombie said.

“It now looks most unlikely that agreement on a final Doha deal will be reached any time soon – this will be a severe blow to Australian farmers.

“Agricultural market access is Australia’s key priority because it is the single issue that will give our farmers the opportunity to grow their farm businesses with confidence into the future.

“In recent years the NFF has been active in building a strong coalition of farm leaders from the United States, Canada and New Zealand who are committed to agricultural trade liberalisation.

“The Australian agricultural delegation has used this week to further strengthen ties with our international colleagues and work collectively to promote the importance of this Round.

“The WTO negotiations are Australian farmers’ number one trade policy priority and it is vital that ministers and negotiators maintain efforts to reach an ambitious agreement in the time remaining before the expiry of US Trade Promotion Authority.

“The NFF will continue to work over the coming weeks with Minister Vaile, his negotiators and international farm leaders to achieve a high-quality outcome which will set the global trading rules for at least the next decade.

“To have any chance of success in the next few weeks it is essential that we get more clarity around issues like the treatment of sensitive and special products so that we can get a sense of what the final package will deliver.

“If the international community does not act now, all opportunities for trade liberalisation could be lost.”

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan, NFF Public Affairs, (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250 email:

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