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Davos talks progress WTO trade negotiations

Hon Phil Goff - Minister of Trade

29 January 2006

Davos talks progress WTO trade negotiations

A meeting of trade meeting in Davos has ended on a positive note in Switzerland with ministers expressing determination to successfully conclude the WTO Doha Round, says Trade Minister Phil Goff.

"The meeting approved a work programme to meet the tight deadlines necessary for the Round to be finalised this year. Achieving this will be a daunting task, with major decisions still to be determined after the meeting in Hong Kong last year," Mr Goff said.

"Perhaps more importantly, key players in the Round agreed that each would need to improve what they were offering, for agreement to be reached. Going into this meeting we had a standoff. No one was ready to move until others put up better offers.

"Now we have acceptance from the US, EU, Brazil and other countries that the only realistic answer is for key players to show their cards at the same time. This means making new offers in concert across the critical areas in the negotiations.

"It is vital that negotiating parties deliver on the Doha mandate, which stresses promoting development and removing obstacles to trade, and trade-distorting practices. This was accepted unanimously by ministers.

"There is too much at stake to allow the talks to fail. The credibility of the multilateral trade system, the development hopes of third world countries and the benefits of growth to all countries from freeing up trade rest on the success conclusion of the Doha Round," Mr Goff said.

"Given the multiple issues that need to be addressed, there is no certainty of success. But the Davos meeting has improved confidence that a successful outcome to the Round can be achieved.

"All ministers expressed commitment to this. There was agreement that negotiating countries needed to be more flexible and to aim for measures to promote trade that were ambitious. Clear timelines for decision-making were approved. This represents good progress and a better outcome than many were expecting," Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff has further trade and defence meetings in London and Brussels this week before returning to New Zealand.

ENDS

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