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Doha Round too important to let slide

Hon Jim Sutton MP for Aoraki
Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Forestry, Minister of Biosecurity, Minister of Rural Affairs, Minister for Trade Negotiations

22 January 2004

Media Statement

Doha Round too important to let slide

Preliminary work on how to get World Trade Organisation members to re-engage in multilateral negotiations will be done at a meeting in Switzerland this week, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton is in Switzerland to take part in the meeting, which will happen after the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

Mr Sutton said the Doha Round of world trade talks was too important to let slide.

“There has been much despondency about the failure to make progress at the meeting in Cancun last year. I think WTO members feel it is time to re-invigorate the talks again, and we are looking for a way forward.

“The Doha Round is vital to the welfare of millions of people around the world who want to be able to trade properly for their livelihoods, not be dependent on aid. Developing countries, who are mainly reliant for trade in agricultural and textile products for their income, and agricultural trading nations, such as New Zealand, have no other forum than the WTO to tackle the most pernicious problems in the international trading system: those of export subsidies, tariff barriers, and excessive domestic support. So we need to see renewed efforts and progress.”

Mr Sutton said he would also be meeting with WTO director-general Supachai Panitchpakdi and trade ministers from Hong Kong, Canada and South Africa, among others.

He said that while United States trade representative Robert Zoellick was not able to attend the Swiss meeting, Mr Sutton had spoken to him earlier this week to get his views on re-invigorating the round, and to welcome Mr Zoellick’s writing to WTO members to urge that this year’s opportunities to get the round back on track were not lost.

ENDS

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