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Feds: Cautious Optimism re US WTO Proposal

26 July 2002

Feds: Cautious Optimism re US WTO Proposal

"Cautiously optimistic" is Federated Farmer's President Tom Lambie's reaction to the United States' proposed reforms for agricultural trade in the World Trade Organisation.

The United States is proposing a two-phase process of reform. The first phase eliminates export subsidies and reduces worldwide tariffs and trade-distorting domestic support over a five-year period. The second phase is the eventual elimination of all tariffs and trade-distorting domestic support.

"The devil will be in the detail," said Mr Lambie. "The US is proposing tougher conditions for the Europeans and Japanese, than for themselves.

"In the Uruguay Round the US proposed removal of all tariffs by 2000 which was too hard for the Japanese and Europeans, so talks stalled. It is vital that change is impacted in the first phase to ensure reforms progress.

"Uniquely among developed countries, New Zealand farmers are almost totally exposed to world market forces. These proposed reforms would make significant progress towards levelling the international playing field.

"This is a forward-looking proposal. I hope all WTO nations will look at how they can contribute to this goal," Mr Lambie concluded.


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