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Fonterra comment on WTO Agriculture Negotiations

Fonterra comment on WTO Agriculture Negotiations

"We are encouraged by the latest proposals for the WTO agriculture negotiations", Fonterra CEO Craig Norgate said today.

He was commenting on the release of a draft paper prepared by Stuart Harbinson, the chair of the agriculture negotiations in the WTO Doha Development Round, which suggested possible ways forward in key areas.

"We are particularly pleased to see a specific date for the elimination of export subsidies. New Zealand dairy farmers have been calling for this for many years."

However Mr Norgate said the text falls well short of Fonterra's expectations in key areas. "For example, under this proposal it would be a full decade before we saw the end of export subsidies, thus delaying the prospects for a significant improvement in international dairy prices.

Furthermore according to these proposals, many high tariffs on dairy products would remain even after the completion of the proposed implementation period. And the proposed minimum level for expanding the volume of product entered under tariff quotas, at 8% of domestic consumption, is far too low. At that rate, we will continue to face market access restrictions for many years to come".

Fonterra wants to see substantial improvements in the key areas during the negotiations to finalise the paper by 31 March 2003.

"If these proposals were ever to come to pass, it would be a further step on the road to liberalisation of agricultural trade. However its early days yet. We have to remember that this is a first draft only. There is still a long way to go to reach consensus on the way forward".

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