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International Farm Leaders Call for Agricultural Trade Reform

19 September 2006

Farm leaders from key Cairns Group countries have delivered a strong statement to world trade Ministers calling for agricultural trade reform, particularly in the area of agricultural market access, which remains decades overdue.

“We believe that with strong political leadership and vision, the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations can be successfully resumed and concluded – the current window of opportunity has not yet closed,” David Crombie, Chair of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders and President of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), said.

“Cairns Group Ministers this week have an obligation to the farmers they represent to focus their discussions on concrete ways to re-energise the Doha negotiations.

“It is vital that this week’s meeting of the Cairns Group demonstrate leadership and while we acknowledge there are political challenges, we urge Ministers to work towards restarting and concluding the negotiations.

“Ministers must focus their discussions on diagnosing problems and finding solutions. Platitudes and generalised statements will not do.

“Developed countries need to bring more to the table on market access and domestic support. Developing countries, too, need to improve their position on issues like special products and safeguards.

“The final Doha agreement must address the real deficiencies and distortions that exist in current trade rules.

“Put simply, a ‘Doha-lite’ deal is not acceptable.

“Our long-standing position is that this Round will not be judged on whether it concludes successfully with the signing of a final agreement. Ultimately, it will be judged on how much new commercial trade it creates in Australia.

“Time is short – we must not lose this opportunity. The work of Cairns Group Ministers, therefore, remains as vital as ever.”

Countries and organisations that participated in the Cairns Group Farm Leaders (CGFL) meeting in Cairns include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Paraguay, South Africa and Uruguay, along with the Global Dairy Alliance and the Global Sugar Alliance.

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