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The Cairns Group


31st Ministerial Meeting, Lahore, Pakistan, 16-18 April 2007

We, the Ministers of the Cairns Group, have met in Lahore, Pakistan, from 16-18 April, to assess the state of the Doha Development Agenda and consider how we will contribute to its successful conclusion.

Action is needed now to avoid putting the Round at grave risk of drifting indefinitely, or even failing.  Nevertheless, a successful conclusion is within our reach, particularly if substantial progress can be made in the weeks ahead.  The Membership needs to find the breakthroughs that will allow the conclusion of the negotiations by the end of this year. 

The enormous global potential of the Doha Development Agenda can only be fully realised with the participation of all WTO Members.  We need high-level political engagement from all Members to deliver on the development promise of this Round.

We remain fully committed to securing an ambitious and successful conclusion to the Round and are firmly resolved to continue to make constructive and positive contributions to the negotiating process.  We are also committed to working with all Members, the Director General and the Chair of the agriculture negotiations to support the multilateral process. We call on all WTO Members to engage fully and flexibly in the Chair's ongoing process in Geneva.

The failure to conclude the Doha Round would represent a major blow for development, for agricultural trade reform and for the multilateral trade system in general.

We reiterate that there can be no successful outcome to the Doha Round without a substantial package of reforms on agriculture. 

As the Members responsible for the greatest distortions in global agricultural trade, the EU, US and Japan must do much more to give effect to the far-reaching mandate for agricultural reform.  They must come forward with concrete contributions without delay.  They must take the opportunities to strengthen and deepen liberalisation in the WTO with domestic reform including through the next US Farm Bill and scheduled reviews of the Common Agricultural Policy. 

Now is the time for all Members, particularly those with the highest levels of agricultural support and protection, to show maximum flexibility in order to meet the mandate.  The opportunity represented by the Doha Round is simply too important to be lost.

In this regard Cairns Group members commend their recent proposals on Sensitive Products and on Tropical and Alternative Products.  The Group is continuing its work on other issues in order to stimulate progress in the negotiations. 

We have agreed to build on this work through a new Lahore Agenda1 for the Cairns Group in the period ahead.  Through this work program we will work to ensure we can move swiftly to the end-game of the Round and that outcomes are in line with the Round's strong reform mandate.

The Cairns Group will work with other WTO Members to achieve convergence on the main parameters in each of the three pillars - market access, domestic support and export competition - including special and differential treatment provisions. 

  • On market access this will require tariff cuts sufficiently deep in each tier to generate new commercial opportunities.  These cuts are required in addition to the average tariff cut, which while important, will not of itself ensure "substantial improvements in market access" for all products.  The treatment of Sensitive Products must be transparent, coherent and equitable. This will require a formula which allows limited deviation from the general formula, for a limited number of products, compensated by substantial MFN TRQ expansion on the basis of domestic consumption1.  It will also require that we meet the long-standing commitment and mandate to achieve the fullest liberalisation of tropical and alternative products.  We will work with all Members towards convergence on the issues of Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism for developing countries.
  • In domestic support, substantial cuts to Overall Trade Distorting Support and to the Final Bound Total AMS must be deep and harmonising and must achieve effective cuts.  Meaningful disciplines, especially product-specific caps, are needed to prevent large fluctuations in distorting support and concentration of distorting support on individual products.  Effective disciplines on Blue Box support are needed to prevent box-shifting without significant reform.  A significantly improved mechanism on monitoring and surveillance is needed to ensure the transparency of Members' domestic policies.  We support the agreement reached in Hong Kong that trade distorting subsidies for cotton production be reduced more ambitiously than under the general formula to be agreed and implemented over a shorter period of time than generally applicable.
  • We have agreed to an ambitious end-date for all forms of export subsidies.  To be effective, this will require strong parallel disciplines to identify and eliminate other forms of export subsidies and to implement the Hong Kong mandate on cotton.  It will also require front-loaded implementation of the phase-out of export subsidies on the basis of volume and value by product.

The Cairns Group will continue to contribute ideas on how these reforms can be negotiated.  There is an urgent need to lay down the building blocks for meaningful results in all three pillars.  We have instructed our officials to develop further practical proposals that allow for fair and meaningful outcomes.  We have also instructed them to work towards finding common ground with other Members and negotiating groups.

We thank Pakistan for its generosity in hosting this 31st meeting of the Cairns Group and are pleased to have welcomed our newest member, Peru, to the Group, as our 19th member. 

We have also welcomed the opportunity for discussions with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, Japanese Minister for Agriculture Toshikatsu Matsuoka and officials representing the EC, US and Japan. We have welcomed Vietnamese officials observing our meeting and look forward to continued close cooperation with Vietnam.

Finally, we have appreciated the presence and support of Cairns Group Farm Leaders who participated in part of our meeting.

1. Building Convergence

We will devote our Group's efforts to outreach to urge flexibility on the part of those with highest level of support and protection in order to secure the essential elements of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round.

We will also continue our outreach with other groups in the negotiations.

Through these efforts we will ensure WTO Members understand fully our requirements for the conclusion of the Doha Round.

2. Contributing Cairns Group Ideas on Modalities

We instruct our officials to continue in earnest the Cairns Group Work Program we launched in Cairns, Australia, last September. 

The Work Program should continue to concentrate on laying out strong and workable ideas for the architecture of a deal in all three pillars. 

Positions should be developed in a manner that is most likely to achieve broad consensus, consistent with the Group's priorities and the mandate.  Consultation and outreach with other Members and negotiating groups will be essential.

Market Access

· Since our last Ministerial Meeting in Cairns, Australia, we have made good progress in articulating the Group's priorities in market access, including through tabling proposals on Sensitive Products and Tropical and Alternative Products.  We will continue to build our outreach efforts on these proposals. 

· We instruct our officials to work towards convergence in the Group on other important issues, such as Special Products, the Special Safeguard Mechanism as well as other issues in the market access pillar.

Domestic Support

· We instruct our officials to find convergence on meaningful disciplines on all trade distorting support, including product specific caps, particularly as they pertain to cotton, as well as to examine other means to ensure the effectiveness of disciplines in this pillar.

· We instruct our officials to find practical and effective means to improve monitoring and surveillance of domestic support commitments through fully transparent, complete and timely notifications, enabling accurate and comprehensive evaluation and review of Members' domestic support spending.

· We also instruct our officials to continue work on monitoring and analysis of domestic support reforms through the US Farm Bill and through scheduled reforms of the CAP in the EU - and to use all available opportunities to advocate the Group's interests in these reforms.

Export Competition

· We instruct officials to give effect to the Group's interests in strong rules to ensure the elimination of all forms of export subsidies, in line with the Hong Kong Declaration.  We ask our officials to give priority to finalising positions on export credits, guarantees and insurance as well as food aid, having regard to the texts issued by the Chair on these issues.

1 Canada does not share these views.

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