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Europeans show they're serious about Doha Round

Media Statement 10 May 2004

Europeans show they're serious about Doha Round

A letter from the European Union's trade and agriculture commissioners setting out Europe's views on WTO negotiations was "a positive move", Trade Negotiations and Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the letter from European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler was timely.

"We are fast approaching our July target date to agree the "frameworks" for the rest of the negotiations. This letter gives a welcome boost to the intensive efforts that we're making to try to find consensus across the agenda."

Mr Sutton leaves tomorrow for Paris to attend a series of OECD and related meetings in which the WTO Round will be discussed.

Mr Sutton said he was pleased, in particular, that Commissioners Lamy and Fischler have confirmed that the EU was ready to move on the elimination of all export subsidies in this Round.

"This is fundamental for New Zealand and virtually all other WTO Members, and a prerequisite to the success of the Round overall."

Export subsidies are among the most harmful of all trade-distorting measures, undermining world markets and depressing farmer incomes in New Zealand and around the world to the tune of billions of dollars each year.

On the other elements of the agriculture package, Mr Sutton said that the letter was less clear.

"I agree with Commissioners Lamy and Fischler that we need to make progress on the central issue of market access. In an effort to move the agenda forward, the EC has put forward some specific ideas on special and differential treatment for a range of developing countries.

"One way or another, we have to take a flexible approach to take into account the food security concerns and rural development needs of many developing countries. I will be most interested to hear whether other countries, and in particular developing countries, think the EC approach offers a good way forward.

"At the same time, we must also ensure that the package delivers significant improvements in real access, for all products. More work is needed there."

Mr Sutton said the letter also identified other areas where the WTO membership needs to make early progress and contained useful ideas which warranted careful consideration by all WTO members. This includes free and open access into developed countries for the exports of Least Developed Countries ? an initiative which New Zealand led the world a few years ago.

"The EU recognises that the Doha Development Round will not be able to accommodate negotiations on investment and competition, and is ready to accept the WTO consensus on the treatment of government procurement. That should help to deal with the concerns which developing countries expressed about these so-called Singapore issues last September in Cancun."

Mr Sutton also endorsed the European desire to see an ambitious formula for the negotiations on market access for non-agricultural goods (which includes fisheries and forest products, of vital interest to New Zealand).


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