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Minister to attend informal WTO meeting in Canada

Minister to attend informal WTO meeting in Canada

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton leaves today for the United States and Canada.

Mr Sutton will attend the next WTO informal ministerial meeting in Montreal, Canada. This meeting, the last such meeting before the full WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, provides another opportunity to meet with key like-minded colleagues to issue a strong challenge to other WTO members to revitalise the lagging negotiations.

"This meeting comes at a crucial time, only weeks out from the next full WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun in September. We need to keep up the dialogue on the key issues, particularly agriculture, to avoid a derailment at Cancun."

Informal ministerial meetings have been held almost every month since November last year, usually with a group of about 25 trade ministers from WTO member countries, in an effort to thrash out difficult issues. The meetings provide opportunities for developing and developed countries to assess progress and discuss how to move the Doha Development Agenda forward.

Mr Sutton said he expected agriculture to be a key focus of the discussions in Montreal.

"Agriculture is central to both the New Zealand and Canadian economies, and I expect it to be a hot issue. It remains the most contentious area of the negotiations, with no real progress having been made on narrowing the gap between positions. Reform of agricultural trade is vitally important to many developing countries. If this Doha Development Round is to be a success, it must have a good outcome on agriculture."

Mr Sutton will also visit Washington on his way to Montreal, to call on a range of politicians and officials and will speak at a business meeting. He returns to New Zealand on August 1.

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