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Cairns Group Statement to the Open-Ended Session of Agriculture Negotiations

The Cairns Group welcomes the revised agriculture text at what is a crucial point in the negotiations.  We have an important opportunity over the coming days and weeks to finalise modalities and to secure the completion of the Round this year.  The Cairns Group reiterates its full commitment to this endeavour.

The revised agriculture text provides a useful basis for building the convergence required to complete modalities.   It is a comprehensive text that represents the progress made in the negotiating group over recent months and largely preserves Members’ positions in some key areas where differences remain.  It is clear, however, that greater work is required to bridge outstanding gaps and bring clarity to outcomes in order to fulfill the promise of substantial reform in all three pillars.

The Cairns Group recalls its long-standing objective of the phased removal of trade distorting domestic support in order to address long-run distortions in global food markets.  A strong outcome from these negotiations remains the best means to achieve such reform in the markets of the major subsidisers.  We underscore the importance of those Members committing to substantial and effective reductions in support and genuine disciplines on product-specific spending.  Conditions in global agricultural markets are now highly conducive to such reform.  The specific and important mandates on cotton and the Green Box also need to be fulfilled.

In the market access pillar, the text reflects the intensification of work over recent weeks.  However, as Cairns Group Members have consistently emphasised, a package of reforms across the full pillar remains central to delivering substantial improvements in market access.   In the areas of Sensitive Products, revised domestic consumption data will be central to informing Members’ further assessment of the options in the text.  We affirm the importance of having certainty about potential market access outcomes before modalities are finalized.  Cairns Group Members also continue to stress the importance of the elimination of the Special Agricultural Safeguard, tariff capping, the removal of tariff escalation and elimination of in-quota duties in developed markets.  We support ongoing negotiations to fulfill the mandate of the fullest liberalisation in tropical and alternative products, consistent with the Cairns Group proposal.  There is also a need to find acceptable areas of convergence for all Members in relation to Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism.

We welcome the degree of convergence reflected in the revised text in export competition, but remain keen to ensure that outstanding subsidy elements are eliminated.  On export subsidies, we see no obstacle to substantial reductions in subsidies by the mid-point of the implementation period through joint reductions in volume and value commitments.

We welcome the revisions in relation to establishing a robust and improved system of monitoring and surveillance across the three pillars, and recognize the need for greater work in this area, including in revisions to notification formats and obligations.

The Cairns Group underscores its commitment to building the convergence required over coming weeks to move the Doha Round towards a successful conclusion.

Last Updated: 24 February 2016

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