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Cairns Group Members Send WTO Agriculture Message

Cairns Group Members Send Message on WTO Agriculture

Australian agricultural producers stand to benefit significantly if a proposal from members of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations to open markets around the world is adopted in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Cairns Group Chair and Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

Mr Vaile said overnight Cairns Group members released a proposal which would see a significant cut to existing levels of agricultural tariffs and an aggressive expansion of country tariff rate quota's (TRQ) amongst WTO member countries.

"Agricultural tariffs and TRQ's have, for a long time, presented an artificial barrier to efficient Australian agricultural producers and have kept their products out of many major markets," Mr Vaile said.

"The Cairns Group proposal would deliver substantial new market access opportunities for all Australian farmers by

„h cutting tariffs significantly by a formula which would reduce all developed country tariffs, some of which are currently several hundred per cent to 25 per cent or lower,
„h substantially expanding developed country tariff quota access by adding 20 per cent of domestic consumption, and
„h Improving tariff quota administration, to ensure existing and new market access opportunities can be fully utilised.
Mr Vaile said the success of the WTO Doha Development Round would hinge on the round's ability to deliver substantial improvements for agriculture market access.

"The Cairns Group members proposal would not only add a new dynamic to the WTO negotiations, but also demonstrates the commitment of Cairns Group members to help developing countries.

"We have developed concrete proposals to address poverty alleviation and food security concerns of developing countries.

"Our proposal would allow them time to adjust to trade liberalisation measures and, in recognition of the special needs of least developed countries, we would not require any tariff reduction commitments from them."

Mr Vaile said with this proposal and the recently released US agriculture market access proposals now introduced in the WTO agriculture negotiations, there can be no doubting the strength of support for fundamental agricultural reform.

The Cairns Group has previously tabled a proposal for the elimination of export subsidies, and is currently working to table a proposal on domestic support.


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