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Cancun Collapse A Lost Opportunity, Says Fonterra

CANCUN COLLAPSE A LOST OPPORTUNITY, SAYS FONTERRA

Fonterra Chairman Henry van der Heyden expressed surprise and disappointment at the break-up without agreement of the WTO Ministerial talks in Cancun today.

"These talks were a major opportunity to push the Doha Development Round forward. It's very disappointing that they have fallen over - apparently because of issues other than agriculture."

"The failure will inevitably put back the timeframe for completing the Round, but we remain optimistic that we will eventually get there."

Mr van der Heyden noted that a considerable amount of work had gone into a draft text on agriculture over the past few days. While it still fell short of Fonterra's hopes for the outright elimination of export subsidies and substantial market access improvements in dairy, he described the final draft text as a substantial piece of work, and an advance on where we were going into Cancun.

He commented that trade rounds were traditionally a roller-coaster ride of sudden progress punctuated by stalling. Similar failures had preceded the completion of the Uruguay Round in 1993.

"This underlines just how hard it is to overcome the politics around trade and agricultural issues. It is frustrating that for once agriculture does not seem to have been the immediate cause of the failure.

But that also gives us some hope that negotiators will be able to put this behind them relatively quickly, and pick up from where we have left off at Cancun".

Mr van der Heyden paid tribute to the efforts of Minister Jim Sutton and NZ officials, who he said have worked hard and effectively to ensure that NZ interests, including dairy, were at the heart of the agricultural negotiations.

-ENDS-

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