The Cairns Group
33rd Ministerial Meeting, Bali, Indonesia
We, the Ministers of the Cairns Group, have met in Bali, Indonesia from 7 to 9 June 2009, to explore how to reinvigorate the Doha Development Round negotiations.
We welcome the recent calls for reengagement on the negotiations and the reaffirmation from WTO Members of the importance of concluding the Round.
The Doha Development Round has a particularly important role to play at this time of global economic crisis. Concluding the negotiations would deliver a much needed contribution to economic recovery and demonstrate the benefits of the multilateral trading system. This outcome is within our grasp, and we are determined to make it happen.
Agriculture lies at the heart of the Doha Round, particularly due to its importance for the development of developing countries. The outcome of the negotiations must build substantially on the foundation, disciplines and achievements of the Uruguay Round by taking a further step along the path of significant agricultural trade reform in line with the mandate.
The Cairns Group recognises the good progress that has been made in the agriculture negotiations. We must build on that work, based on the draft modalities text, to secure an outcome that meets the Cairns Group’s long-term objective of a fair and market oriented agricultural trading system through substantial improvements in market access; substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support; and the long overdue elimination of all forms of export subsidies as agreed by Ministers in Hong Kong.
An ambitious and balanced outcome to the Doha Development Round will generate substantial improvements in agricultural market access opportunities. It will lock in significantly reduced domestic support commitments, open up new export opportunities and reduce the level of distortions in international markets. This will benefit all agricultural producers, including low income producers in developing countries. And it will eliminate export subsidies once and for all. Such reforms will provide valuable insurance against the growing threat of protectionism, and will help move the international trading system closer to a level playing field.
At this critical time in the global economic downturn, it is essential that we guard against increased protectionism in agriculture, which includes not only tariffs but also subsidies and other restrictive non-tariff measures. The recent reintroduction by the EU and US of export subsidies for one major commodity has deepened that risk. Cairns Group Ministers remain deeply disappointed by the re-introduction of such measures. The EU and the US must show leadership by removing these export subsidies in the shortest timeframe. Even measures that are applied within WTO commitments can still have a significant protectionist effect. We therefore urge WTO Members to exercise the utmost restraint and not follow this example. All WTO members must act responsibly and resist the temptation to resort to protectionist measures at this difficult time.
To reach a conclusion to the Round, WTO Members must now summon the political will to conclude our mandate for a balanced and ambitious outcome.
Looking ahead, we now need a transparent and inclusive process of engagement at both the technical and political levels. Trade Ministers underlined the urgency for officials to engage intensively and on an ongoing basis. Senior negotiators must reconvene in Geneva as soon as possible to map out a clear path towards the conclusion of the negotiations, and to start down that path before the European summer break. USTR Kirk and Commerce Minister Sharma of India fully endorsed these views.
At the same time, WTO Members must take advantage of every opportunity to engage at the political level to drive progress. Cairns Group Ministers committed themselves to using every opportunity over coming weeks and months to this end.
We have used this meeting to discuss approaches to concluding the agriculture negotiations, including with India, the United States, China, the EC and Japan. These special guests have told us they share the commitment of the Cairns Group to reinvigorate the negotiations, with a view to bringing the Doha Round to conclusion in the shortest possible time with an outcome that is good for agricultural trade reform, for development, and for the multilateral trading system.
We welcome the presence and acknowledge the input of WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and Agriculture Chair David Walker.
We welcome Vietnam observing our meeting and look forward to continuing our close cooperation with them.
We have appreciated the presence of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders, whose guidance and support is an essential element of our work.
We thank the Indonesian Government for hosting the 33rd Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting and welcome the offer by Uruguay to host the next Ministerial Meeting of the Group.
The Cairns Group comprises Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.