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U.S. farm leader echoes Cairns Group concerns for liberalisation of world agricultural trade

31 March 1998

The United States' most senior farm leader today echoed calls by his colleagues from the Cairns Group countries for the eventual elimination of all tariffs and quotas.

The President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Dean Kleckner, told 14 farm leaders from the Cairns Group currently visiting Australia that the time frame for the elimination of most tariffs should be 5 to 10 years, with 15 years for a few commodities.

"There are no farms in the world who would not be able to adjust to free trade in 15 years", Mr Kleckner said.

"U.S. farmers look for the next set of negotiations to eliminate quotas, export subsidies and, if tariffs must be set, they should be put at zero", he said.

"Any new treaty should treat all countries and all commodities fairly and equally, and agreements will no longer be acceptable if they exempt specific commodities from general agreements".

"U.S. farmers want all agricultural matters on the table", Mr Kleckner said.

"The goals we have in the next round will be to set specific time frames for the reduction and elimination of tariffs, with any agreement adhering to World Trade Organisation sanitary and phyto-sanitary rules", he said.

"We will definitely work for the creation of better, faster dispute settlement procedures, so our concerns can be addressed before our crops rot in the fields".

r Kleckner said the Joint Communique issued by the Cairns Group farm leaders earlier today was an admirable communique to give to the Cairns Group Ministers, who will meet in Sydney on Thursday and Friday.

"I see little reason to expect the next round of negotiations to proceed more expeditiously than the Uruguay Round, and it is good to have a strategy going in the negotiations which will hopefully begin later next year", Mr Kleckner said.

"The Uruguay Round left too many loose ends untied, and there is no question that another agreement in world agricultural trade must be drafted", he said.

"It is apparent to farm leaders in the Cairns Group countries, as well as in America, that agriculture must be included in any future global trade pacts".

"Working together, we can bring down barriers to world - wide, open trade".

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31/3/1998 Cairns Group Farm Leaders vow to force trade reform through WTO for liberalisation of world agricultural trade

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30/3/1998 Gains for beef and wool from trade liberalisation worth billions for liberalisation of world agricultural trade