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The Cairns Group

7th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting Santiago, Chile


Ministers and representatives of the Cairns Group (Argentina, Australia, brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, new Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay) met in Santiago de Chile from 4-6 July 1990. Poland attended the meeting and participated in all the working sessions as an observer. Observers from the European Community and the United States also attended the public sessions.

The Ministers were honoured by the presence of the President of Chile, Don Patricio Aylwin A., who addressed the meeting.

Ministers expressed deep concern at the slow progress in the agriculture negotiations, and, with only five months of the Uruguay Round remaining, Ministers stressed the danger of a crisis developing from the failure of others to move the negotiations forward. They urged the major industrial countries to commit themselves to an ambitious and comprehensive agricultural reform package so as to allow an acceptable framework to be agreed at the meeting of the trade negotiations committee in Geneva in the week beginning 23 July.

Ministers noted the major economic restructuring efforts and trade liberalising programs being implemented by many countries in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Asia/pacific region. Ministers called upon the industrialised countries to recognise that a successful outcome to the Uruguay Round, including significant agricultural reform and trade liberalisation, is critical to the continuation of this trend.

Ministers stressed that participants at the summit of major industrialised countries meeting in Houston from 9-11 July would need to ensure that the Uruguay Round, especially agriculture, was given top priority.

In this regard, Ministers welcomed the overall thrust of the proposal for an agriculture "profile" put forward recently by the chairman of the Uruguay Round Agriculture Negotiating Group. In particular they welcomed the fact that his text called for specific commitments on the four essential elements, namely internal support, border protection, export competition and sanitary and phytosanitary provisions. Ministers agreed on the importance of strengthening GATT rules and disciplines and making them operationally effective.

Ministers welcomed the empasis in the Chairman's text on market access liberalisation being provided through the conversion of non-tariff measures to tariffs and the subsequent reduction of existing and converted tariff barriers. In this context Ministers reiterated that the concept of re-balancing involving sustained or increased levels of protection and trade distortion for any product was totally unacceptable.

Ministers of these the provision for export subsidies to be submitted to which would ensure they were driven down at a faster rate other elements of the reform package. Indeed, Ministers emphasised that they continued to regard the progressive elimination of export subsidies as a key objective for the round.

Ministers were disappointed that the Chairman's text confined reductions in internal support to use of an aggregate measure rather than specific policy commitments.

Ministers, while welcoming the recognition given in the Chairman's text to the legitimate needs of developing countries consider that in several respects it falls short of the Cairns Group proposal. Ministers agreed that special consideration should be given to rural poverty alleviation and environmental protection programs.

Ministers reiterated, in the context of the war against drugs, the need for support to be given to producers in areas in some developing countries to encourage diversification away from illicit narcotic crops, as noted in the Chiang Mai Ministerial Statement. Accommodation of these matters would need to be found in the course of the negotiations.

Despite the misgivings noted above, Cairns Group Ministers recognised the effort the Chairman had made to provide a way forward in the limited time available. They were therefore prepared to accept his text as a minimum basis for negotiations post July, on the understanding that the four major elements earlier mentioned are jointly negotiated.

In this same light, Cairns Group Ministers urged all other participants to accept the text as the basis for ongoing negotiations. They commended this view to the Houston Summit of Industrial Nations. In this regard they particularly called on the European Community, the United States and Japan, as major trading powers, to meeting their responsibilities and to make the contributions required of them in these negotiations.

Finally, ministers renewed their determination that the round cannot and will not conclude, in whole or in part, without a substantial outcome on agriculture. They agreed that if necessary they would meet again in advance of the Brussels Trade Negotiations Committee Meeting to reach a final determination on the agriculture package. In the interim, Ministers will maintain close co-ordination in order to ensure that Cairns objectives would be achieved.

6 July 1990

Argentina, Australia, brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Hungary, Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, new Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay

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