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Breakdown of WTO negotiations another lost opportunity

30 July 2008

THE breakdown of negotiations in the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade talks is another dismal result for Australia’s farmers and agricultural exporters, and a huge lost opportunity for the world’s hungry,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said.

“The collapse, caused by hard-line demands for unacceptable flexibilities in agricultural and non-agricultural market access by countries, such as India, has cost Australian farmers the opportunity to export to new and expanded markets and set back the Doha Round of WTO negotiations.

“The entrenched positions that led to the breakdown show scant regard to the urgent need for reform and have greatly undermined global food security.

“For Australian farmers the fact that a deal has not been reached in Geneva means that:

  • Countries such as the European Union, the United States and some developing countries, such as India, maintain the ability to use export subsidies;
  • Agricultural domestic support limits will not be reduced in OECD countries;
  • Market access will not be improved; and
  • Food Aid and Export Credit arrangements will not be enhanced.

“After seven years of negotiations, ironically, developing countries will be the biggest long-term losers from the failure to reach agreement.”

A recent report: High Food Prices: Causes, Implications and Solutions, by The Centre for International Economics (The CIE), highlighted that the overarching objective of global food policy should be to encourage the system of production, distribution and consumption of food that leads to:

  • the right amount of food of the right type being produced;
  • food being produced in the right places where it is needed; and
  • production and subsequent distribution should be done in a way that makes the best use of the planet’s scarce resources with the least amount of waste and pressure on the environment.

“This should have spurred trade ministers to find common ground on significantly improving market access, reducing agricultural domestic support (currently at AUS$280 billion in OECD countries) and eliminating agricultural export subsidies,” Mr Crombie said.

“The NFF thanks Australian Trade Minister, The Hon Simon Crean MP, and his officials for their tireless efforts over recent days.

“Despite the frustrations, Australian farmers remain committed to the WTO negotiations and, more broadly, the need for trade reform.”

[ENDS]

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

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