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United States proposal welcomed

11 October 2005

United States proposal welcomed

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton today welcomed news overnight of a United States offer to make deep cuts in trade distorting farm subsidies.

US Trade Representative Rob Portman has offered to cut the most trade-distorting forms of support by 60%. The offer is conditional on equivalent cuts from the European Union and Japan. The US has also put forward proposals for a second phase of subsidy and tariff cuts.

Mr Sutton said others had been watching to see whether the US could come up with some flexibility on farm programmes.

"That they have put forward a new proposal now is very positive. We will now need to work with the United States and others to better assess the proposal's implications ? what it actually means on the ground."

Mr Sutton said the US offer was conditional. Much would depend on whether other major players such as the EU and Japan could also dig deeper on support programmes and on market access.

"But at a time when we need a breakthrough this is the sort of gesture that could get some real progress underway at last. We now look to others to respond by delivering ambition on other aspects of the Doha mandate ? including on market access."

Mr Sutton was speaking from Singapore on his way to a meeting with US, EU and other trade ministers in Geneva. The eleven countries in the "FIPS Plus" group will be meeting on 12 October to try to find a way forward in the deadlocked WTO agriculture negotiation.

ENDS

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