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Smart talk at Cancun could yield results

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP National Party Trade Spokesman

12 September 2003

Smart talk at Cancun could yield results

National Party Trade spokesman Lockwood Smith says the latest reports indicate progress is possible on agriculture at the WTO Ministerial in Cancun "so long as our negotiators think smart."

"Jim Sutton needs to resist his tendency to hurl rocks from the sideline," says Dr Smith.

Dr Smith was New Zealand's previous Minister for International Trade and has chaired major working groups at the WTO.

"Instead of abusing the US, for linking up with the EU, Mr Sutton should see the strategic opportunity now for the US to drag the EU along, rather than just confront them.

"The initial statements by the US and EU indicate possible movement beyond their pre-Cancun position.

"For that to happen, the Cairns Group members need to accept a trade-off on geographical indicators for such products as cheese, and also accept domestic support payments directed towards specified environmental outcomes that are decoupled from production.

"A way forward also needs to be established to deal with the Singapore issues - investment, competition policy and government procurement.

"Progress on these issues would assist the EU to move further on export subsidies and market access and enable the US to help nudge them along.

"Clearly the US has determined that it will move only as far as it can drag the EU on agriculture.

"The emergence of the G21, a group of major developing countries, including the huge economies of Brazil, India and China, not to mention South Africa and Egypt, gives Cancun a new momentum to enable progress.

"They are telling the world in no uncertain terms of the damage that agricultural protectionism in the EU, the US, and Japan does to the poor.

"If their initiative to eliminate subsidies on cotton could be accepted, it might be the start of the breakdown of agricultural protectionism which is destroying the future for the poorest people of this world.

"Smart negotiators should make progress. The time is right", concluded Dr Smith.


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