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Draft WTO text needs more work

Draft WTO text needs more work

A draft text for the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting next week was progress, but much more work was needed, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

WTO General Council chairman Ambassador Carlos Perez del Castillo published a draft textfor Ministers to consider at the 5th WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancún (10-14 September) in Geneva today.

Mr Sutton said Mr Perez del Castillo and the council had clearly worked hard to deliver the draft.

"But I'd have to say it's not yet everything which is needed."

The document deals with all the issues that ministers will debate in Cancún. It affects New Zealand's key export interests in areas such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other 'non-agriculture' or general industrial goods, as well as provisions to strengthen the international rule of law.

Mr Sutton said the draft text was a serious start.

"But we still have a long way to go. I have directed my officials to keep working over the coming days to raise the level of ambition, particularly in agriculture and non-agriculture market access. We're after fundamental reform in these areas, which will be good for New Zealand, and good for the WTO membership, particularly developing countries.

"This text falls short of what we need to do in Cancún. Export subsidies must go in this Round. The text still pussy-foots around that.

"We need enhanced market access for agriculture sorted out. This text still plays hide-and-seek with what it actually means.

"Even in the case of access for other, non-agriculture, goods, it's hard to get a clear sense of direction. There is not enough precision on an ambitious formula.

This draft text is not agreed. It is a proposal by the Chairman of the WTO General Council for consideration by WTO Members.

Mr Sutton said there was quite a way to go before he would be satisfied.

"I am relieved that we are at last pointing in the right direction. But none of the really hard decisions have been taken and there is still everything to play for." The draft text will now be debated intensively by ambassadors in Geneva.

"And whatever happens in Geneva, it's still what is decided by ministers in Cancún that counts. If we can get a satisfactory text over the next few days in Geneva to help us, I will be delighted. I am directing New Zealand officials to work with that aim.

Mr Sutton will lead the New Zealand delegation to the WTO meeting in Cancun.

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