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Australia To Press For Trade Reform

Hon Warren Truss MP
Minister For Agriculture, Fisheries And Forestry
11 June 2002

Australia To Press For Trade Reform At World Food Summit

Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss will stress the important role agricultural trade reform can play in improving world food security when he attends the World Food Summit in Rome this week.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is hosting the World Food Summit: Five Years Later, from 10-13 June to assess progress towards achieving the goal of the 1996 Summit of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015.

Mr Truss, who is representing the Prime Minister in Rome, said it is unacceptable that hunger is still a major problem for the world despite there being enough food to feed all people.

A recent FAO estimate put the number of undernourished people in the world at 815 million. While that figure is falling at a rate of 6 million a year, it’s still well short of the 22 million a year needed to reach the target set at the 1996 Summit.

“The keys to alleviating world hunger are greater affordability and better access to the supply and distribution chain of the international food industry,” Mr Truss said. “Targeted research and development and fair and equitable technology transfer are also important.

“But it is trade that plays the critical role in promoting economic growth and improving living standards. And the opportunity provided by the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round of negotiations to free-up agricultural trade, must be seized by all countries.

“We cannot allow recent increases in subsidies and protection in the world’s wealthy nations to continue to stifle development and erode the competitiveness of agriculture sectors in developing countries. The support doled out to farmers in the world’s major economies now amounts to around $1 billion a day — more than six times the development assistance provided by donor nations to impoverished countries .

“If these countries are serious about alleviating hunger, and not just paying lip service, then they must support sensible market-orientated trade policies that stop undermining agricultural development strategies in developing countries.”

Mr Truss said he also hoped to meet with US Secretary of Agriculture Veneman to reinforce the message that the US Farm Bill will have a devastating affect on the world’s farmers, and has severely compromised US credibility in the Doha negotiations.

“The US must recommit to genuine reform and implement the Farm Bill in a way that does not breach US WTO commitments, and least distorts trade.”

Mr Truss said he also planned to meet with his Danish and Swedish counterparts. Denmark assumes Presidency of the European Union later this year and will have a major role in the Mid Term Review of the Common Agricultural Policy Agenda 2000 program, as well as general agriculture issues in an expanding European Union.


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