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WTO Talks Break Down

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

25 July 2006

WTO Talks Break Down

Trade Minister, Phil Goff expressed disappointment and deep regret at the failure of the G6 countries to resolve the differences between them to allow the WTO Doha Round to move forward.

"I share Pascal Lamy's view that with the suspension of the WTO talks the whole world loses.

"Concluding the Round would have produced a net gain in trade and living standards for all countries.

"As an efficient and unsubsidised producer of agricultural and non-agricultural goods and of services, New Zealand will be a significant beneficiary of completing the Round.

"The Uruguay Round was worth nearly $1 billion a year to New Zealand and an ambitious Doha Round would have similarly beneficial effects.

"But the costs of failure to developing countries are even greater, and a lost opportunity for all of us for a fairer, more prosperous and stable world. The developing world needs major cuts in the subsidies and export incentives that wealthy countries pay to their producers for there to be a level playing field.

"And they need cuts in tariff barriers which block access to markets in the developed world and also other developing countries.

"Sadly, the message about the need for ambition and flexibility announced by leaders at the G8 meeting in St Petersburg did not translate to the G6 trade ministers meeting in Geneva.

"The Round is suspended because there was not the political will and the flexibility to close the gaps between the positions of the major players.

"Yet everyone knows what is required to do it. Within the G6 the US needs to offer bigger cuts in domestic subsidies, the EU, Japan and India need to put forward better offers on agricultural market access and the large developing countries, Brazil and India, need to offer larger cuts in non-agricultural tariffs.

"Recriminations and playing the blame game won't advance the situation. There is collective responsibility.

"Nor can the Doha Round be pronounced dead. The Uruguay Round survived similar crises and went on to a successful conclusion.

"It is important not to lose the significant progress which has been made in the Round to date. This continues to provide a solid platform for eventual resumption of the negotiations.

" The Round will not now be completed this year. The key players need to reflect on the consequences of this failure, to examine their options and to explain to the world why they cannot find the political will and flexibility to move forward.

"Meanwhile, New Zealand will continue to engage with other countries and play the constructive role it has since the start of the Round.

"However we have never left all our eggs in the WTO basket.

"New Zealand will continue to explore and pursue opportunities bilaterally and regionally to remove barriers to trade and to promote trade missions to key markets.

"But sooner or later countries will have to come back to Geneva because the only way to remove trade distorting subsidies and make tariff reductions across the board is through the multilateral WTO process," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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