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Cairns Group Committed To Reforming Global Trade

31 August 1999


The Cairns Group has reaffirmed its vision for the new World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade negotiations to be launched at Seattle in November this year," said Lockwood Smith on his return from Buenos Aires at the conclusion of the 19th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting.
Dr Smith said that despite its diverse membership, the Group had shown a strong sense of unity and ambition in pursuing agricultural trade reform.
"Substantially enhanced market access, the elimination of both trade distorting domestic support and export subsidies are key targets for New Zealand and the rest of the Cairns Group," Dr Smith said.
"All Ministers in Buenos Aires were aware of the damage caused by agricultural protection around the world. Just last year alone, OECD countries spent US$362 billion on agricultural support, which inflicts gross damage through distorting agricultural trade, reducing economic growth and employment opportunities.
"The Group reaffirmed its commitment to address the real and legitimate needs of developing and least developed countries, which include market access for agricultural exports, food security and rural development.
"The Group also met with US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, and there was a wide measure of agreement on the need for further agricultural reform in the WTO. The Cairns Group is looking to the US to take early action on export credits, an area where it has yet to meet Cairns Group expectations or live up to commitments in the Uruguay Round.
"New Zealand and the Cairns Group are also totally committed to the elimination of export subsidies, and given that only a handful of countries continue to use such measures, I'm hopeful that we can achieve this goal at an early stage of the reform process.
"I am confident that the Cairns Group will continue to play a strategic role in ensuring that the interests of its members and all agricultural exporting countries are not overlooked by the major trading powers in the WTO negotiations.
"I look forward to participating in the next Cairns Group Ministerial dialogue in the run up to the Seattle Ministerial in late November," Dr Smith concluded.


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