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The Cairns Group

Statement of the 40th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting

Buenos Aires, Argentina

We, the Ministers of the Cairns Group1, met in Buenos Aires on 11 December 2017 to discuss our common interest in continuing with trade reform in the agricultural sector.

Cairns Group Members reaffirm their commitment to the rules-based, multilateral trading system, which has contributed significantly to global economic dynamism and resilience over the past 23 years, and for decades before. Cairns Group members are committed to supporting the effectiveness of all aspects of the WTO, its regular business, negotiating and dispute settlement functions, and to promoting the WTO’s objectives for the benefit of all Members.

Cairns Group Members, along with many WTO Members have shown a strong desire to further discipline agricultural domestic support. Recognising that reform to domestic support can only effectively be pursued at the multilateral level, we seek tangible and positive outcomes at MC11, including a new discipline on the overall level of trade distorting domestic support, with due consideration to the development needs of developing members.

Members of the Cairns Group have put forward several proposals seeking the creation of an overall trade distorting support (OTDS) limit, and are strongly committed to reaching an outcome in this area at MC11. We affirm our willingness to continue working with all WTO Members to explore any and all constructive, practical and pragmatic negotiating approaches to attain an outcome at MC11.

We also seek that WTO Members agree to establish a work program to continue negotiations to discipline and reduce all forms of production and trade distorting domestic support. Recognising that excessive levels of product specific support continue to impact world market prices for a range of goods, we will continue to press for new disciplines in this area.

The Cairns Group reaffirms that the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, including least developed countries, must remain integral to all negotiations. The framework for trade reforms must continue to support the economic development needs, including technical assistance requirements, of these WTO Members.

The Cairns Group will continue its efforts to achieve convergence around outcomes in the area of agricultural market access. With average tariffs on agricultural products remaining more than eight times higher than tariffs on industrial products, among other issues that restrict or prohibit our exports, increased market access in agriculture is essential. We call for commitment from all WTO Members to establish a work program to continue market access reform with clear and measurable parameters.

The Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Export Competition represents a significant and historic achievement for the WTO. The Cairns Group reaffirms its commitment to the full and timely implementation of the Decision and the continuation of negotiations on outstanding issues under this pillar.

Cairns Group Members have worked constructively to find a permanent solution to public stockholding for food security purposes. Appropriate transparency and safeguards requirements are essential elements of any solution.

Transparency is crucial for the proper functioning of the WTO. There are currently over 1,700 outstanding agriculture notifications. Greater efforts are required to comply with the notification requirements of the Agreement on Agriculture and relevant Ministerial Decisions. We call on all WTO Members to redouble their efforts and strengthen notification compliance.

We affirm the Cairns Group’s willingness and capacity to play a leading role in agricultural trade negotiations.

1 This statement was agreed by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Deensel.Deensel

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