APEC Push For Elimination Of Food Export Subsidies
Rt Hon Jenny Shipley
Chair, APEC New Zealand 99
Media Release Monday 13 September 1999 For immediate release
APEC To Push For Elimination Of Food Export Subsidies At The WTO
APEC Leaders, meeting in Auckland today, agreed to press for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies through the forthcoming round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on agriculture.
The initiative will help free up world trade in agricultural products and is part of the APEC Food System endorsed by APEC Leaders at their Meeting in Auckland.
Recommended by APEC's Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the Food System proposal calls for action to meet the region's food needs through improved food production, distribution and trade.
Trade Ministers meeting in Seattle in November will consider this recommendation as part of their agenda-setting discussions for forthcoming WTO negotiations.
Mrs Shipley said APEC's move on export subsidy elimination was a tremendous step forward that would send a strong message to the WTO.
"Food producers world-wide have long been frustrated by export subsidies and other protection measures that distort trade and encourage inefficiency and over-production in the agriculture sector. But it is difficult to overcome the political obstacles to removing such measures.
"In light of this, it is remarkable that APEC members have agreed to the APEC Food System, including support for elimination of agricultural export subsidies. It sends a signal that the WTO cannot ignore, given that APEC members generate over half of total world trade," the Prime Minister said.
APEC Ministers, who met in Auckland last week, have also asked APEC's working groups to intensify their work in agriculture-related economic and technical cooperation.
"This work is vitally important to the development of the food sector, and includes rural education, attracting investment to build and rehabilitate infrastructure and facilities, providing clear and easily understood food standards, and transferring agricultural knowledge, practices and technologies."
"It's all about people being assured that food will be available to buy, at the price and quality they desire," the Prime Minister said.
ABAC's original proposal called for action in three areas:
Rural infrastructure development;
Dissemination of technological advances in food production; and
Promotion of trade in food products.
APEC Leaders endorsed this three-pronged approach, as well as ABAC's recommendation that care be taken to ensure changes in any one area be balanced with progress in the other areas.
Building an APEC Food System will be a major challenge for APEC, but Leaders expect results and will review progress at their meeting next year in Brunei. A more robust food system is central to APEC's goals and objectives.
"This work is vital to the prosperity of all peoples of our region. Various studies, including one by the APEC Study Centre in Auckland, have determined that a more efficient regional food system would improve consumers' spending power by billions of dollars. Leaders will ensure that APEC gives this work high priority," the Prime Minister said.