Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Tensions Over Agriculture Text Emerge At WTO

Tensions Over Agriculture Text Emerge At WTO Meeting

PRESS RELEASE

11 November 2001

TENSIONS OVER AGRICULTURE TEXT EMERGE AT WTO MEETING

The World Trade Organisation draft declaration was not ambitious enough on agricultural trade reform, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton told the heads of delegation session at the WTO ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar, that agriculture was of vital importance to New Zealand.

"New Zealand survives by trade. Agriculture amounts for about 60 per cent of New Zealand's total exports."

Mr Sutton said that a consensus accepting the need for liberalisation of international agricultural trade had been building during the meeting. The Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations (which New Zealand belongs to) and most developing nations at the WTO meeting felt strongly that liberalisation of agriculture trade was fundamental to a new round of international trade negotiations.

The United States of America was supportive of it, and Japan - previously unwilling to contemplate the prospect - had indicated it could live with the language in the draft declaration. However, today the European Union, which speaks on behalf of all its member countries at the WTO had rejected that language and would not accept any text that referred to the "elimination" or "phasing out" of trade-distorting agricultural export subsidies. Under WTO rules, all members must accept all the proposed text, or a new round of international trade negotiations cannot be launched. "If one side does not back down, or a compromise is not reached, by tomorrow afternoon, that means that the pressure is really going to come on. Delegates will have to work intensely for the next few days and it could go down right to the wire."

He said that most of the clauses on agriculture in the draft declaration were probably not far from where eventual consensus would be found.

However, New Zealand still had concerns about the draft, and other members shared those concerns.

"First, the overall level of ambition is disappointing. The Uruguay Round was a good start down the road to creating a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system, but it was only a beginning.

"We should raise the level of ambition in the three key areas of reform - market access, export competition, and domestic support. Without a good market access outcome, including one that addresses tariff peaks and escalations, we can't seriously call this a development round. We need to finally see an end to the systematic discrimination against agriculture.

"Export subsidies undermine the ability of unsubsidized products to compete fairly. They directly damage the interests of efficient agricultural exporters and particularly developing countries. The vast majority of members have called for their expeditious elimination.

"In our view, the text simply must refer to "substantial reductions of export subsidies leading to elimination over a short period"."

Mr Sutton told the 141 other ministers attending the meeting that because of the vital importance of agriculture to New Zealand, New Zealand should be included in all relevant consultations at the meeting.

The Doha meeting began at 5.30pm on November 9 (3.30am November 10 NZ time) and was opened by the Emir of Qatar. It runs till November 13.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Tax Working Group’s Road Map

Trying to analyse the interim report on the Tax Working Group (TWG) is like trying to review an entire All Blacks game, but at the half- time mark.

With so much still to be finalised, Sir Michael Cullen and his colleagues are going to need all the All Blacks’ fabled finishing skills to get a coherent, fiscally neutral package together by the February 2019 deadline. More>>

 

Meth Testing Report: Housing NZ "To Right Wrong"

Phil Twyford “Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.” More>>

ALSO:

No Reshuffle: Meka Whaitiri Removed As A Minister

Meka Whaitiri will be removed as a Minister with immediate effect... The decision was made after receiving a report into an incident that occurred on 27 August in Gisborne, involving Meka Whaitiri and one of her staff. More>>

ALSO:

Pay Equity Bill: Making History For Women’s Pay

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill, introduced to the House today, will make it easier for workers to make a pay equity claim , using a more simple and accessible process within New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework. More>>

ALSO:

Suffrage 125: NZ A Trailblazer For Women

“We acknowledge the work of Kate Sheppard, Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, and all of the suffragists who tirelessly campaigned for the vote… Today we also need to ask each other: how we can continue to make our country a fairer and better place to continue the legacy of the suffragists.” More>>

ALSO:

Asylum: Refugee Quota Increasing To 1500

“The quota increase will take place from July 2020. In the meantime, we will work to increase the number and spread of refugee resettlement and support services. We need to make sure we’re prepared for this change in policy.” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels