Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Cairns Group Role Explained By NZ Minister

Cairns Group Role Explained By NZ Minister

PRESS RELEASE

11 November 2001

CAIRNS GROUP ROLE EXPLAINED BY NZ MINISTER

Agriculture had been left out of international trading reform for more than 50 years, and it was time for a catch-up, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

He told a press conference, called by the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, Qatar, that while the average bound tariff rate for manufactured goods had fallen from 50 per cent to less than 4 per cent during the past 50 years, the average bound tariff r ate for agricultural products was still more than 40 per cent.

"It's time to have a catch-up for agriculture. It's time that these countries here, from the Cairns Group, benefited from the international trading system the way industrialised nations have.

"We're not asking for anything other than that agriculture be treated in exactly the same way as other sectors are treated already."

The Cairns Group of agricultural trading nations groups 18 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, and most South American and south-east Asian countries.

After this morning's meeting to discuss tactics for negotiations at the WTO meeting which begins in earnest tomorrow after this evening's opening, the Cairns Group published a communique emphasising the fundamental importance of agricultural trade reform to the future of the world trading system.

Cairns Group ministers said they expected the WTO meeting to agree to an ambitious negotiating mandate, including clear benchmarks and timetables, leading to the full integration of agriculture within WTO rules and an end to discrimination against it in the WTO framework.

"Only then will agricultural producers be able to compete fairly on the basis of their comparative advantage."

Mr Sutton said New Zealand thoroughly endorsed the Cairns Group's message to other WTO members.

"Enough is enough. It was only in the last round of world trade negotiations, the Uruguay Round, that agricultural trade was included for the first time.

"New Zealand, Australia, other Cairns Group members, and the developing world need market access on fair terms."

After intense questioning from many European-based journalists, Mr Sutton defended the Cairns Group stance on agriculture and the need for reform.

He said Cairns Group members were well aware of the European Union and Japanese positions on the need for agricultural protection and subsidies, which were based on a concept called multifunctionality. That concept meant that it was acceptable to give farmers trade-distorting subsidies because they would then provide environmental measures for the countryside, maintain rural employment, and similar things, thus impacting negatively on efficient agricultural exporters such as New Zealand.

"These things are legitimate areas for public policy. Cairns Group members are also concerned about the environment, the need to maintain rural employment, and to keep the countryside attractive. But if you want your rural areas' fences painted white or your hedgerows trimmed, then pay farmers subsidies to do those things. Don't pay them production subsidies in the hope that some of the money will be spent on paint."

Mr Sutton said it was quite clear that such subsidies encouraged farmers to inefficiently produce things that were not wanted by consumers. That surplus production is then dumped into international markets, depressing prices for unsubsidised farmers in other countries.

"We need to stop that. Agriculture needs to be treated as other products are, so that we can all concentrate on producing what we do best."

The Doha meeting began at 5.30pm on November 9 (3.30am November 10 NZ time) and was opened by the Emir of Qatar.

It runs till November 13.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Covid-19: Auckland Back To Alert Level Three After One New Community Case Revealed

Auckland will move to alert level three for a week at 6am tomorrow morning after two new Covid-19 community cases announced this evening could not be directly linked to earlier cases, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
The rest of the country will move to level two.... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Rivals For The Covid Saliva Testing Dollar

If you want a good insight into what the limits of tiny, barely discernible steps to reduce poverty actually look like, delve into the latest Statistics Department figures on poverty in New Zealand Most of the nine measures utilised reveal little or no progress in combatting poverty over the 21 months to March 2020... More>>


 


Government: Main Benefits To Increase In Line With Wages

All measures of child poverty were trending downwards, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, across the two years since year ended June 2018, Stats NZ said today. The COVID-19 lockdown in late March 2020 affected Stats NZ’s ability to collect data from households ... More>>

Government: Reserve Bank To Take Account Of Housing In Decision Making

The Reserve Bank is now required to consider the impact on housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions, Grant Robertson announced today. Changes have been made to the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee’s remit requiring it to take into ... More>>

ALSO:


RNZ: Alert Levels Remain

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 today, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says at least half of the Papatoetoe High School community have been tested and the results that have come through so far have all been negative... More>>

ALSO:


NZ Initiative: New Report Highlights How Our Housing Crisis Could Worsen If We Don’t Act Now

If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative. In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand , Research Assistant Leonard Hong ... More>>

Parliament: Kiwi MPs Among The “Most Educated In The World”

New analysis of MP qualifications reveals New Zealand’s Parliament is one of the most educated and highest qualified in the world, and significantly more educated than Australia’s. The research, by Mark Blackham of BlacklandPR and Geoffrey Miller ... More>>

The Dig: An Illogical Ideological Struggle

Dig beneath all the trade wars and the arguments to the effect that the USA should not permit China to achieve economic and technological superiority, or even parity, and you find the real reason behind the conflict... More>>

Travel: Government Eases Visa Restrictions For Visitors In New Zealand

Visitor visa holders will be able to stay in New Zealand a little longer as the Government eases restrictions for those still here, the Minister of Immigration has announced. More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels