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The Cairns Group



December – The 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya agreed to eliminate the use of export subsidies on agricultural goods.


December – The 38th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Bali, Indonesia formally welcomed Vietnam as the newest Member of the Cairns Group. 


December – The 37th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting was held in the margins of the WTO’s 8th Ministerial Conference.

September – The 36th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting was held in Saskatoon, Canada in advance of the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in December.


April - The 35th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay in 2010 provided the first opportunity for Ministers to meet to review the Round following the March 2010 stocktake. Members discussed the current state of the Doha Development Round to chart a path forward.

March - WTO Agriculture Chair tables report on the state of play in the Doha Round’s agriculture negotiations at the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee.


November/ December - Ministers agreed at the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference on the need to conclude the Doha Round in 2010 and to conduct a stocktaking exercise in the first quarter of the year.

September - Senior officials establish roadmap and work program to facilitate conclusion of the Doha Round in 2010, including a work plan focusing on outstanding agriculture modalities, as well as work on scheduling data and templates. The Cairns Group make a strong contribution to the technical discussions on scheduling templates, through a series of proposals identifying elements that are likely to be relevant to the scheduling the agriculture commitments once the Doha Round is concluded.

June - The 33rd Cairns Group Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, provided an important opportunity to reinvigorate the negotiations and further build on the progress that had been made.


December – Revised negotiating textsfor agriculture and NAMA incorporate the main elements of the progress made at the WTO’s Ministerial Meeting in Geneva in July and subsequent technical work by officials. These texts represent the significant progress achieved to date in the two core areas of the Doha Round.

July - The meeting of WTO Ministers in Geneva 21-29 July was the largest WTO Ministerial Meeting since 2005. The July 2008 Package reflected the considerable progress made by the WTO’s 153 Members since 2001. Convergence was reached on many of the outstanding issues, in both agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA). A handful of elements in the package were unresolved – in particular, the Special Safeguards Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries and cotton domestic support.

May - the WTO Agriculture Chair revises the draft modalities text.

February - the WTO Agriculture Chair revises draft modalities text.


July - the WTO Agriculture Chair releases a draft modalities text which guided discussions and subsequent revisions of the Chair’s text until mid 2008.

May-July - The Cairns Group tables many proposals, including on sensitive products, special safeguards, tropical products, export credits, food aid, monitoring and surveillance, and improving market access.

April - The 31st Cairns Group Meeting in Lahore, Pakistan, reaffirmed its efforts to conclude the Round, and highlighted a number of proposals that fed into the development of the modalities texts.

January - WTO Members agree to a full resumption of the Doha negotiations.


November – The Cairns Group welcomes Peru as its 19th member.

September - The Cairns Group uses its 20th Anniversary Ministerial Meetingto explore practical ways to get the negotiations back on track. This meeting sent a united message to the major players about the importance for global development of an ambitious and conclusion to the Round. The Cairns Group agreed on a program of work to establish the conditions for a successful conclusion to the negotiations.

July - The negotiations were suspended at the end of July after an attempt by ministers from six key players – Australia, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India and Japan - to break the deadlock on a number of technical issues.


December - The Cairns Group welcomes Pakistan as its 18 th member and issues its first joint press statement with the G20 urging progress during the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting. The WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration saw further progress on the approach to reform agricultural trade, including a commitment to eliminate export subsidies by the end of 2013 as part of concluding the Doha Round.

April – At their 27th Ministerial Meeting held in Cartagena, Colombia, Ministers reiterate that there can be no successful outcome to the Doha Round without a substantial package of agricultural trade reform, and commit to intensifying their efforts in the lead up to the WTO 6th Ministerial Conference to be held in Hong Kong in December 2005.


July – WTO members agree to July 2004 Framework on Agriculture to guide the agricultural negotiations in the Doha Round. Agreement was reached on the elimination of export subsidies, development of structures for reductions in domestic support and cuts to tariffs, with the effect that the greatest distortions would be treated most rigorously.

February - At the Ministerial Meeting in Costa Rica, Ministers reaffirm their commitment to achieving substantial progress in the agricultural negotiations in 2004.The Group stresses it is ready to work actively with all WTO members and groups, such as the G20, to agree on a framework for negotiating modalities that is consistent with the high level of ambition of the Doha mandate.

January - The Cairns Group welcomes the letter by United States Trade Representative Bob Zoellick signalling that the United States intends to engage actively in the WTO agriculture negotiations in 2004 with a view towards achieving an ambitious result.


December - The Cairns Group welcomes the positive indications of WTO Members in recent weeks and during the General Council meeting on 15-16 December to re energise the Doha negotiations.

November - The Cairns Group addresses the UN General Assembly, expressing concern at the failure of the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun to advance the Doha Development Agenda and urges all WTO Members -especially the major developed countries -to reaffirm their commitment to re-engage in the negotiations without further delay.

September - The Cairns Group stresses that agriculture is the central issue facing Ministers at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancuún, Mexico. It calls on Ministers to build momentum on agriculture and recognise that agriculture is central to delivering the 'development dimension' of the Doha Development Agenda.

Cairns Group Farm Leaders also urge Cairns Group Ministers to work vigorously toward a successful outcome and stress that there can be no Doha Round outcome without a comprehensive agreement on agriculture.


November - Between September and November 2002, Cairns Group members tabled additional negotiating proposals on market access, domestic support and export competition. These proposals provided the basis for the Cairns Group’s negotiating position in the Doha Round agriculture negotiations.

October - Cairns Group Ministers hold their 24th Ministerial Meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They raised concern about the lack of engagement on the Doha Round negotiations and restated their readiness to work with other WTO members to ensure the negotiations reflect the closely inter-related nature of the three ‘pillars’ of real agriculture reform: market access, domestic support and export competition.

The Cairns Group also welcomed the participation of Uganda at the 24th Ministerial Meeting. The Cairns Group also noted that there were many similarities between the reform proposals of Cairns Group members and the proposals of the African Group, of which Uganda is a member.

May - The Cairns Group condemns the US Farm Bill and calls on the US to demonstrate the necessary leadership for the attainment of an ambitious and comprehensive program of agricultural liberalisation and reform in the current WTO negotiations.


November - Cairns Group Ministers welcome the WTO Mandate on Agriculture in Doha, Qatar, noting that the Mandate will enable the Group to pursue its objectives in the negotiations for a fair and market orientated agricultural trading system.


November - The Cairns Group submitted a negotiating proposal on Market Access. This proposal called on WTO Members to deliver, in an agreed timeframe, vastly improved market access opportunities for all agricultural and agrifood products.

October - At the 21st Ministerial Meeting in Banff (Canada), Cairns Group Ministers assessed the progress of the negotiations so far and reaffirmed their strong commitment to move the next phase of the agriculture negotiations forward. Egypt's Minister for Economy and Trade, Dr Youseff Boutros-Ghali and EU Agriculture Commissioner, Dr Franz Fischler attended the meeting as special guests and engaged in fruitful discussions on agriculture trade reforms with Cairns Group Ministers.

September -The Cairns Group submitted a negotiating proposal on Domestic Support. This proposal sought major reductions in domestic support leading to the elimination of all forms of trade and production-distorting support.

June - The Cairns Group submitted a negotiating proposal on Export Competition. The proposal called for the complete elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies.


December - The Cairns group expressed regret that, despite substantial progress in developing a detailed agriculture decision, the Seattle WTO Ministerial ended on December 3 without agreement on a new round of global negotiations. The Group acknowledged that mandated agriculture negotiations would begin shortly, and reaffirmed its commitment to fundamental reform of global agricultural markets.

November - Cairns Group Ministers welcomed new members Bolivia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, bringing the Cairns Group membership to 17. On the eve of the Seattle WTO Ministerial meeting, Cairns Group members emphasised that a strong and early decision on agriculture would be central to ensuring the success of the meeting.

August - At the Nineteenth Cairns Group Ministerial in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cairns Group Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to their objectives as outlined in the Sydney Vision Statement, and called for decisions to be taken in Seattle on a detailed negotiation plan. Ministers highlighted that this will require the elimination of export subsidies and trade-distorting domestic support, and major gains in market access.


May - At the 2nd WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Cairns Group Ministers welcomed the agreement at the Conference to begin preparations for the next round of agriculture negotiations. The WTO Geneva Ministerial Declaration binds WTO members to a preparatory process beginning in September 1998, the result of which will be a decision at the 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle 30 November to 3 December 1999 on the scope, structure and time-frame for the agriculture negotiations.

April - At the 18th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Sydney, Australia, Cairns Group Ministers endorsed the Cairns Group Vision Statement. The statement reaffirms Cairns Group countries' commitment to agriculture reform and sets an ambitious set of objectives for the Cairns Group for the next round of agricultural negotiations in the WTO scheduled to commence in 1999. Cairns Group Farm Leaders met at the same time as the Ministerial meeting, reinforcing the message of the Vision Statement.


June - In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Group stressed that it would be seeking far reaching and ambitious reform of world agricultural trade when negotiations commence in 1999 and agreed to prepare within the next year options and strategies for all the key areas of agriculture requiring reform.


December - In Singapore the Cairns Group welcomed the decision of WTO members to start, early in 1997, a focused work program to prepare for further negotiations, to begin in 1999.

June - In Cartagena, Colombia, the Group agreed to pursue a WTO commitment to a realistic and balanced program of work in order to prepare for the initiation of multilateral negotiations on agriculture in 1999.


May - In Manila, the Philippines, the Group expressed determination to renew trade liberalisation negotiations as soon as possible, noting the Uruguay Round outcome as 'a significant first step' in rolling back agricultural trade barriers.


May - In Montevideo, Uruguay, the Group reaffirmed that there was still an important role for the Cairns Group in the post Uruguay Round trade environment and undertook a major work program.

April - At the conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations in Marrakesh, Cairns Group Ministers agreed to maintain the Group and continue to pursue efforts for further agricultural reform.


October - In Geneva, the Group rejected the concept of partial deals and insisted that agriculture be part of the final outcome. The Group insisted that agriculture was not solely a transatlantic issue and that any deal done between the majors on agriculture had to take account of Cairns Group interests.

June - In Bangkok, Thailand, the Group agreed that a delegation of Cairns Ministers should make direct representations to the G7 Summit meeting in Tokyo.


June - In Geneva, the Group sent a strong message to the G7 on the need to break the deadlock on agriculture.


December - In Geneva, the Group expressed strong support for GATT Director-General Dunkel's efforts to mediate a Uruguay Round agreement.


July - In Santiago de Chile, Chile, the Group reiterated that the Round could not be included without a substantial outcome on agriculture.


April - In Geneva, Switzerland, the Group played a critical role in the framework agreement with US, EU and Japan to cover negotiations during the remainder of the Round.


October - In Ottawa, Canada, the Group tabled a comprehensive negotiating proposal.


September - In Punta del Este, Uruguay, GATT members agreed to a mandate to negotiate on agriculture in the Uruguay Round.

August - Inaugural meeting in Cairns, northern Queensland, Australia. Ministers agreed to form an alliance to ensure that agricultural trade issues would be given a high priority in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations.

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