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New Zealand endorses Cairns Group message

27 October 2005

New Zealand endorses Cairns Group message

The next move by the European Union in the Doha Development Round could define what happens in the rest of the World Trade Organisation's multilateral negotiations, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton endorsed a statement from the Cairns Group, a group of agricultural exporting nations, which called on the European Union to consider its role in the Doha Round carefully.

The EU is expected to table a new offer on agricultural market access within the next few days.

Mr Sutton said whatever that offer was would be a hugely important factor in the future of the Doha Development Round.

"What happens next is up to the European Union at this point.

"All WTO Members have committed to a substantial improvement in market access and this was reaffirmed by the EU recently. We hope to see this reflected in the content of an EU offer when it emerges."

Mr Sutton said that if World Trade Organisation ministers did not get break-through on agricultural market access within the next week, the chances for a successful outcome from next month's Hong Kong meeting would diminish.

Other countries would be called upon to make significant commitments in other areas such as non-agricultural market access and services, but agriculture was the key to achieving success in the round.

Mr Sutton said that time was running out to get a consensus on major issues before the Hong Kong World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in December.

There was significant convergence, he said, but still a way to go before consensus could be achieved.

ENDS

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