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Farm Leaders Call On WTO To Deliver For Farmers

31 March 2005

Fifty years after World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries moved in concrete terms to provide fair and equitable rules for trade in industrial products, millions of farmers throughout the world continue to be denied the same opportunity, Cairns Group Farm Leaders Chairman, Mr Peter Corish said today in Cartagena, Colombia.

"Agricultural trade reform is decades overdue and it is time for all World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries to deliver on the Doha mandate," said Mr Corish, who is President of the National Farmers' Federation in Australia.

"Cairns Group farmers seek nothing more than a fair go and delivery of what we were promised when the Doha Round was launched more than three years ago:

"...comprehensive negotiations aimed at: substantial improvements in market access; reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support." (Doha Ministerial Declaration, November 2001)

In Cartagena, where he has been chairing a meeting of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders, Mr Corish called on Cairns Group Ministers to continue to be outspoken, bold and forward-thinking in their campaign for agricultural trade reform.

Mr Corish said the central message of Cairns Group farmers was that they would not accept a limited outcome from this WTO Round.

"As farm leaders, we are calling on Cairns Group Ministers to work hard to achieve the immediate elimination of all forms of export subsidies; substantial improvements in market access for all products; and, a substantial reduction in the actual amount of money being spent on trade distorting domestic subsidies," Mr Corish said.

Mr Corish told Cairns Group Ministers that agricultural trade reform was decades overdue and it was now time to unlock the economic potential of millions of farmers in Cairns Group countries.

"The Doha Round will not be judged on Ministers merely signing off on a final agreement," Mr Corish said. "It will be judged on how much new trade it creates.

"Cairns Group farmers are the most efficient farmers in the world and given the opportunity to compete in a trading system that is not distorted by layers of protection, we know we can compete with anybody.

"We believe that Ministers have a once in a lifetime opportunity this year to fundamentally reform world trade in agriculture," Mr Corish said.

A copy of the Cairns Group Farm Leaders Chairman's statement to Cairns Group Ministers in Cartagena is available on the Cairns Group Farm Leaders website:

Contact: Mairi Barton, General Manager, Public Relations (NFF) – 02 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250

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4/4/2005 Cairns Group Farm Leaders and Ministers as One

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16/3/2005 Farmers Support Free Trade? Damn Right We Do!