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WTO talks end without result

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

30 July 2008

WTO talks end without result

World Trade Organisation talks in Geneva aimed at concluding the Doha Development Round this year ended today without final agreement being reached.

Speaking from Geneva, Trade Minister Phil Goff said it was intensely disappointing that countries were unable to bridge some differences, when they were so close to finalising the agreement.

“Substantial progress was made across a range of issues taking us closer to agreement than the Round has ever been,” Mr Goff said.

“But a difference of opinion between the United States and India over a safeguard mechanism to protect farmers in the developing world was unable to be resolved.

“This means that the WTO Round will not be concluded this year, and puts off a final agreement probably until at least the second half of next year,” Mr Goff said.

“Sadly, what that means is the potential for an agreement to boost development and world trade at a critical time, when the international economy is so fragile, has been lost for the time being.

“What is already agreed and on the table would be a major benefit to all countries including New Zealand and the developing world.

“Agreement has been reached to eliminate agricultural export incentives, cut and cap domestic agricultural subsidies, and cut bound tariff rates in agriculture by at least 54 per cent.

“These are goals which New Zealand has strived for over many years.

“There is also agreement that would see tariff rates on industrial goods reduced to a maximum of eight percent in developed countries, which would particularly help our fish and forestry exports.

“Agreement to reduce barriers to trade in services was also agreed to in meetings over the weekend.

“But none of these benefits can be realised until there is final agreement on issues across the board.

“The immediate goal should be to try to secure the significant progress that has been made.

“We also need a process whereby officials continue the search for mutually agreed solutions on the safeguards mechanism in agriculture, as well as other outstanding issues.

“It is unproductive to enter into a blame game over who is responsible for agreement not being reached at this stage.

“While all countries are obliged to pursue their legitimate national interests, it is equally important that each sees that no country’s real interests are served by a failure to reach an outcome. That in turn requires compromise and flexibility on all sides,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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