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WTO Trade Negotiations Committee

Statement by Australia on behalf of the Cairns Group

The Cairns Group is disappointed that after twelve months of intensive effort we have made little headway in putting flesh on the bones of the agriculture framework text adopted in July 2004.

We call on all WTO Members to recognise that there can be no progress on the DDA until key issues of agricultural trade reform are adequately addressed.  

It is unfortunate that the high level political support for agricultural trade liberalisation at the recent G8 Summit in Scotland and by Trade Ministers in China has failed to be translated into tangible progress in Geneva.

The Chair has identified the key issues on which decisions are needed soon if the Hong Kong Ministerial is to meet its objectives.  But time is now seriously short.

For the next phase starting in September, the Cairns Group calls on the majors and those with high levels of agricultural protection to show leadership and work seriously with us and other Members to find acceptable ways forward.   

But any approaches must be consistent with the principle that this WTO Round has to achieve real reform of agricultural trade. The benefits of an ambitious outcome on agriculture for developing countries, in particular, cannot be understated.

Agriculture remains the sector that is globally most distorted by trade barriers and other support measures and agricultural trade reform is crucial to the delivery of the Doha Round’s development and poverty-reduction goals. 

Recent consultations have again underscored the fact that without progress on agriculture, and agricultural market access in particular, we will not be able to move forward on other issues, including NAMA and services.

As a first priority, WTO Members must return to these negotiations in early September with a renewed commitment to address the key issues blocking progress on market access and the development of disciplines on domestic support.

The Cairns Group remains undeterred in our determination to secure full modalities by Hong Kong.

We stand ready to work cooperatively with all other WTO Members to ensure that we deliver on the Doha mandate on agriculture.  This will require substantial and genuine improvements in market access, real and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and the elimination of export subsidies. 

We call on others to work with us to that end.

Last Updated: 24 February 2016

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