Cairns Group Sends Warning on U.S. Farm Bill
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
Minister for Trade, Australia
Thursday 16 May 2002
The Cairns Group, of agricultural exporting countries, has warned the U.S. Farm Bill risks setting back the prospects of achieving real agricultural trade reform in the current round of World Trade Organisation negotiations.
Speaking in Paris, following a meeting with Cairns Group Ambassadors earlier this week in Geneva, Trade Minister, and Chair of the Cairns Group, Mark Vaile said the Cairns Group membership was seriously concerned about the Farm Bill’s effect on world agricultural trade.
“My Cairns Group colleagues and I are equally concerned that the Farm Bill will drive down international commodity prices and hurt, not only efficient Australian farmers but also, farmers from other agricultural producing countries,” Mr Vaile said.
“The Farm Bill will also provide comfort to those WTO members who are determined to resist agricultural trade reform.”
Mr Vaile said he had driven home to US representatives his disappointment with, and opposition to, the Farm Bill.
“I have held face-to-face meetings with the US Ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer, and the US Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva, Linnet Deily, and left them in no doubt of my strong disappointment on the direction set by the Farm Bill and its impact on developing countries.”
“I reiterated my view that the 10-year $US 180 billion funding for agricultural support raises serious concern about the U.S. Administration’s ability to provide leadership in the WTO.
“Today, I will meet with Deputy US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier and deliver the same message to him.
“Tomorrow I will meet European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and reinforce the need for Europe to contribute to the advancement of agricultural trade liberalisation.”
Mr Vaile said the US Farm Bill only reinforces the resolve of Australia and the Cairns Group to see large reductions in, with a view to phasing out, domestic agricultural support in the Doha Round.