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Phil Goff to travel to Geneva for WTO ministerial

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade


16 July 2008
Media statement

Phil Goff to travel to Geneva for WTO ministerial meeting

Trade Minister Phil Goff will travel to Geneva tomorrow to meet with other Trade Ministers with the aim of progressing the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Doha Development Round trade negotiations.

The Ministerial “Green Room” meeting of around 30 trade ministers selected by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is scheduled to run from Monday 21 July. It will aim to achieve agreement on trade rules for agriculture and industrial products, based on revised negotiating texts released late last week.

“The new texts show real movement in negotiations since May, but reaching consensus among 152 WTO members in a highly charged political setting will be difficult. There is a risk that the negotiations – including at ministerial level – could break down, and there is a track record in recent years of them doing so,” Phil Goff said.

“It is widely accepted, however, that political decisions are now necessary, if we are to conclude the Round this year. The ministerial meeting is seen as providing the last realistic chance of agreeing a package which would allow that to happen.

“Last week, the leaders of the G8 declared that the ‘successful conclusion of an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive Doha agreement is critical to economic growth and development’.

“The challenge, as before, remains translating high-level political statements into the leadership and flexibility required at the negotiating table,” Phil Goff said.

“New Zealand has important issues at stake across the negotiations, which we will be working hard to advance. But given current global economic uncertainties it is in all our interests to conclude this round.

“Just how much progress can be made will ultimately depend on whether the major players are prepared to show leadership and commit themselves to making concessions and to finding common ground.

“A failure to do so could see the Round going ‘on ice’ for several years, and growing protectionist pressures could see key WTO members less willing to re-engage in the negotiations,” Phil Goff said.

Other ministers taking part in the meetings, including US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, and their counterparts from Brazil, China, Japan, India and Australia.

While in Geneva, Mr Goff will also participate in a Trade Ministers’ meeting on the Doha Round services negotiations and a Ministerial meeting of the Cairns Group made up of like-minded agricultural exporting countries.


ENDS

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