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Progress on WTO agriculture negotiations

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

21 May 2008
Media statement

Encouraging progress on WTO agriculture negotiations; non-agriculture moving more slowly

The latest text document used as a basis for WTO negotiations on agriculture represents an encouraging sign of progress, Trade Minister Phil Goff said today.

The Chairs of the WTO agriculture and non-agriculture negotiating groups, Crawford Falconer and Don Stephenson, released revised negotiating texts early yesterday in Geneva.

“This agriculture text goes much further than the original draft of July 2007 and revision of February this year”, Mr Goff said.

“There now appears to be consensus in a number of key areas, including on much of the subsidy-related issues and the cuts to tariffs. The text also reflects considerable progress on the core issue of the expansion of tariff quotas.

“While work still remains, including on developing country market access, this text reflects the significant progress that has been made in the intensive negotiating process under way in Geneva for the past year”, Mr Goff said.

While further progress had been made in agriculture, there remained real challenges in other areas, Mr Goff said.

"A number of new proposals in the non agriculture market access (NAMA) negotiating text, reflects the reality of unresolved questions in that area of the negotiation about the level of real commitments that developing and developed countries are prepared to make.

“It is apparent that a lot of work remains to reach an acceptable agreement in this area,” Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff said the texts released yesterday were highly technical and that officials were in the process of examining them in detail.

“We will want to undertake careful analysis to let us assess the implications for New Zealand interests. In agriculture it is now close to the point of being able to put the remaining issues in front of ministers for political decision. But we have not made the same progress in other areas of the negotiation.

“It is clear from discussions I have had with other trade ministers however that there is a real sense of urgency about reaching a deal,” Mr Goff said.


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