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Goff: Doha Round a test of political will

Doha Round a test of political will

Intervention at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting
Follow Up To Hong Kong session
Quai d'Orsay, Paris

Mr Chair, this morning I want to focus on two things – the level of ambition we need, and should try to settle on, to conclude the Doha Development Round; and the process we should follow from here, and what we collectively can do to assist.

The Chair of the Trade Committee has circulated a blunt message that I want to strongly endorse. This round matters. It is a test for multilateralism and rules-based systems. It is a test of our commitment to development, and it is a test of sound policy making and our ability to make changes that would create huge benefits for us all if we succeed.

But time is running out and we should not assume that failure is not an option.
There are tough and urgent political decisions to make.

What is the level of ambition we need? We need a level in agriculture and industrial market access through tariff cutting that allows trade to actually flow, or otherwise what is the point? In the area of domestic support we need cuts that actually reduce real spending.

The triangle of issues – market access, domestic support, and non-agricultural market access – must be resolved urgently to get progress in determining modalities. There are three major players who have primary involvement in what is put on the table and we should support and encourage them to find agreement.

The public will be looking at what emerges from this meeting. I hope the message we can send is that we do have a sense of urgency and will meet real deadlines in June and July; and that we have the level of political commitment to face up to the hard decisions.

What can we as Ministers do? We need to talk to and adjust the expectations of our own local lobby groups as to the negotiating realities and what might need to be done; and we must be ready to show flexibility to find agreement.

New Zealand has high ambition for maximum change but, while the Doha Round needs to make trade flow and remove the worst distorting factors, we appreciate we won't get a deal if we hold out for everything we want.

All of us need to work together, and with those we represent, to identify the landing zone where consensus can be reached, and to make the deal happen. If we fail, history will not forgive us.

ENDS

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