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Vaile Responds Cautiously to Bush's Pledge

Vaile Responds Cautiously to Bush's Pledge

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade Mark Vaile has responded positively but with caution to US President George W Bush's pledge, at the UN General Assembly, to scrap all tariff barriers and subsidies if other countries do the same.

Mr Vaile said, "The key now will be to turn President Bush's ambitious remarks into reality. The time has come for both the US and the European Union in particular to demonstrate, in concrete terms, how they will free up their agricultural markets.

"President Bush's strong statement should help to reinvigorate the Doha round of world trade negotiations. Leadership from the US and EU on agriculture is crucial if we are to bring these difficult negotiations to a successful conclusion.

"What we do in this Round will shape the multilateral trade environment for the next 25 years.

"A major beneficiary of freer trade in agriculture would be developing countries, a point which President Bush also makes.

"For decades, developing countries have been denied the chance to trade their way out for poverty by the protectionist agricultural policies of certain developed countries.

"The World Bank estimates that a level playing field on trade would lift 140 million people out of poverty."

Australia will continue to push for an ambitious result - one which achieves freer markets in agriculture, industrial products and services.

"Improved market access, reductions in trade distorting domestic support and the elimination of export subsidies are also essential outcomes for Australia," Mr Vaile said.

Australian companies would reap great benefits from this, especially our highly efficient agricultural exporters, who have to sell their products into the most heavily protected sector of the world economy.

"Australia's farmers also deserve the right to compete on a level field on the global stage. Thirty three per cent of farm income in the EU comes from Government support, in the US it is 18 per cent. Government support in the EU and US is $180 billion. Australia provides just $1.1 billion (4%) to its farmers.

The next major step in the negotiations will be the meeting of all World Trade Organisation Ministers in Hong Kong in December. Mr Vaile will lead the Australian delegation at that meeting.

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