Skip to main content

The Cairns Group


34th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting Geneva, Switzerland

We, the Ministers of the Cairns Group, have met in Geneva, Switzerland, on 30 November 2009 to prepare for the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference. We have also reviewed progress in the Doha negotiations and discussed what is needed to successfully conclude the Doha Development Agenda in 2010.

On the occasion of the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference, we welcome the opportunity to review the WTO’s activities and its role in the global economy. For more than 60 years the WTO and its predecessor, the GATT, have created a stable and effective rules-based multilateral trading system. This has underpinned the significant global economic growth and development we have experienced in the post-war period, which has helped lift millions out of poverty. A fair and market oriented agricultural trading system is essential to facilitate trade, fight protectionist policies and create a trade environment that sustains growth and development. The WTO can play a pivotal role in delivering meaningful agricultural trade reform, which is long overdue, and is at the heart of the Doha Round.

We must secure an ambitious and balanced outcome to the Doha Round in 2010 in line with the agreed mandate, based on the progress already made, including with regard to modalities. This is essential for the strength of the multilateral trading system. The Cairns Group reiterates that this outcome must include a major package of reforms to agricultural trade, which continues to be highly distorted. Such a package must substantially increase market access opportunities, substantially reduce trade-distorting domestic support and eliminate export subsidies in 2013. All agricultural producers will benefit from such an outcome, including low income producers in developing countries. Securing these results in agriculture will be critical to the development credentials of the Round.

The Cairns Group meeting in Bali earlier this year was the catalyst for members’ re-engagement in the agriculture negotiations and this was reinforced by the Group in New Delhi. We welcome the consultations on agriculture that have taken place over the past few months, as a result of the road map developed following the informal ministerial meeting in New Delhi in September. However, we are disappointed with the limited progress in resolving or narrowing differences on the outstanding agriculture modalities. There has been good progress on the technical work necessary to prepare for post-modalities scheduling, to which the Cairns Group has made a major contribution.

All Members need to engage substantively in a transparent and inclusive manner if we are to bridge the gaps and successfully conclude the Round in 2010. Many world leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed the need to conclude the Round next year, an objective shared by the broader WTO Membership. Political will and multilateral engagement are vital, and need to be urgently translated into concrete negotiating progress. We must work towards completing the agriculture modalities by early next year so that we can complete the Round in 2010. Ministers should come together in the early part of 2010 to assess the situation and take any necessary decisions to ensure the Round is on track for conclusion.

A Doha deal would counter protectionism, deliver a much needed stimulus and contribute to an early recovery of the global economy, particularly in developing countries. To reap these benefits, we must do all we can to conclude the Doha Development Agenda by 2010. The Cairns Group urges all Members to work decisively towards that objective.

Back to top