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Expanded Cairns Grp dCalls For Agricultural Reform

29 November 1999 (Seattle, Washington)


Further expansion of the Cairns Group shows the ongoing growth in support for substantial reform of global trade in agricultural products, according to New Zealand Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

Dr Smith's comments follow today's Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, which took place prior to the opening of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial which it hoped will launch a new round of global trade negotiations.

"The Cairns Group today agreed to expand its membership to include Bolivia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, meaning it now accounts for one third of world agricultural exports. The expansion also demonstrates the growing support, particularly from developing countries, for reforming global trade rules for agriculture, Dr Smith said.

"Trade raises living standards around the world, and developing countries often enjoy strong comparative advantage in agriculture. But elaborate systems of production subsidies, export subsidies and trade restrictions lock developing countries out of key markets, and limit their scope to use agricultural trade to create jobs and lift millions out of poverty.

"Trade in agricultural products needs fundamental reform, and the Cairns Group today called on WTO Ministers to begin negotiations to deliver this reform through substantial improvements in market access, the elimination of export subsidies, substantial reductions in domestic support, and the integration of the agricultural sector into the rules-based GATT/WTO system.

"The Cairns Group is working very closely with the US, and continues to play a crucial role in New Zealand's strategy in the WTO to reduce and remove barriers to trade which impose limits on the success of New Zealand exporters," Dr Smith concluded.

Dr Smith's programme today in Seattle also involves meetings and a media conference with New Zealand's and Australia's Dairy Industries and negotiating sessions with key WTO members in advance of the normal opening of the WTO Ministerial at 9am on 30 November 1999 (Seattle time)


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