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WTO negotiations get great boost

16 May 2004 Media Statement

WTO negotiations get great boost

Significant progress on forging a consensus for the WTO Doha Round of negotiations has been made, New Zealand Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the series of meetings around the OECD meeting in Paris last week has resulted in significant progress towards consensus in the previously becalmed round of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

“Progess followed the dramatic letter from the European Union’s trade and agriculture commissioners to WTO trade ministers. Effectively, that letter agreed to end agricultural export subsidies.”

Mr Sutton was invited to lead the trade debate in the OECD ministerial council meeting yesterday, and he told the meeting that WTO members had come a long way since the meeting in Cancun last year.

“Europe’s move is possibly historic, I told ministers. We have a moment between now and the end of July, a unique opportunity which ministers and governments should grasp. This call was endorsed by United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, and Mexican foreign minister Luis Derbez said that if WTO ministers failed to take this opportunity now, it could be years before it could be repeated.”

Mr Sutton said the convergence evidenced at that morning meeting was reinforced at an informal meeting of WTO ministers in the afternoon.

“About 30 ministers achieved significant progress on the critical agriculture issues of market access, export competition and subsidies. This will give a clear sense of direction to WTO ambassadors working towards the deadline of the general council meeting in July.”

Mr Sutton said the WTO negotiations were critically important to New Zealand.

“The last WTO round benefited New Zealand by about $9 billion over the 10 year implementation period, and by about 17,600 jobs throughout the economy. This latest round has the potential to be even better.”

ENDS

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