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Extension to term of NZ Chair of WTO Ag Talks

Hon Tim Groser

Trade Minister

16 December 2008
Media Release


Extension to term of NZ Chair of WTO Agriculture talks

Trade Minister Tim Groser says the Government has decided to ask New Zealand Ambassador to the WTO, and Chair of the WTO Agriculture Negotiations, Crawford Falconer, to remain in Geneva in an effort to help revitalise the WTO’s Doha Development Round negotiations.

Mr Groser says efforts to maintain momentum in the negotiations are critical after the disappointing cancellation of a WTO ministerial meeting scheduled for later this week.

“Ambassador Falconer’s term had been due to end at the end of December, but Foreign Minister Murray McCully and I have decided to ask him to remain in Geneva in a special role as Ambassador to the WTO Doha Round Agriculture negotiations.

“As Chair of the WTO Agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Falconer’s contribution has been of crucial importance and a number of WTO members, including at ministerial level, have expressed strong hope that he would be able to remain in that position in Geneva.

“During my meetings with WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and senior representatives from other WTO member countries over the weekend, I strongly reiterated New Zealand’s commitment to doing what we could in a bid to conclude the Doha Round as soon as possible next year.

“Extending Ambassador Falconer’s stay in Geneva is a concrete expression of that commitment, and should help ensure momentum is maintained in efforts to conclude the Doha agriculture negotiations over the next few months.”

Mr Groser also confirmed that Ambassador Falconer will be replaced as New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the WTO by Dr David Walker, who takes up his position in January. 

“David Walker is one of our top trade diplomats, having been the lead negotiator in the New Zealand – China FTA negotiations and, until recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. I have no doubt that he will also add significant value to the WTO negotiations in Geneva,” Mr Groser says.


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