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Australian farmers welcome intention to reinvigorate WTO negotiations

21 October 2016

The Australian agriculture sector has commended Government plans to reinvigorate World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations this weekend in Norway.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, will attend the meeting of WTO Ministers and has today expressed his intention to discuss ways to ensure a robust agenda for global trade negotiations. The gathering precedes the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in 2017 and is an opportunity to initiate such talks.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Chief Executive, Tony Mahar, said the agriculture sector was seeking strong and effective action in Buenos Aires next year to best represent the interests of Australian farmers and to build on previous negotiations.

“The removal of export subsidies as a result of agreement at the last Ministers’ Conference in Nairobi in 2015 was a positive result but much more needs to be done,” Mr Mahar said.

“Global agricultural trade is still highly distorted by domestic subsidies and support, particularly in Northern Hemisphere countries.

“Australian farmers have some of the lowest support levels in the OECD and all we ask is for a level playing field so that international markets may be fairly contested.”

Mr Mahar said the NFF was a keen supporter of the Cairns Group, a unique coalition of agricultural exporting countries with a commitment to reforming global trade, and would continue to strongly pursue fair, free and open trade through this initiative.

“Through our position as Chair of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders organisation, we will continue to work with 19 other countries to advance the interests of a fair, open trade landscape for the benefit of the Australian agricultural supply chain, our rural and regional communities and the broader national economy,” Mr Mahar said.

“The WTO is the institution which sets the rules and agenda for global trade and we encourage Minister Ciobo to robustly and persistently represent our farmers at this important gathering on the weekend and so as to pave the way for positive results in Argentina next year.”

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