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International farm leaders to meet in Australia

17 February 1998

The President of the National Farmers' Federation, Donald McGauchie, today announced that history would be made in Australia in the first week of April.

"For the first time since the formation of the Cairns Group, the Presidents of the peak farm organisations in the Cairns group countries will meet concurrently with their Trade Ministers- and they'll be the guests of the NFF and our sponsors, QBE Insurance", he said.

Addressing the 44th Conference of the NFF in Canberra, Mr McGauchie said the Ministers in the Cairns Group - one of the most influential bodies in the move towards greater world trade liberalisation - would meet in Sydney on April the 2nd and 3rd".

"This is the most important initiative by industry since the formation of the Cairns Group in 1986. It will send a strong message to the rest of the world that Australia, which has a vital interest in freer world trade in agricultural products, is determined to see deep cuts in tariffs and other protective devices which corrupt world markets".

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Australian farmers to influence history. A two - day tour by the farm leaders to rural New South Wales will provide numerous opportunities for our farmers to put their cases personally for trade liberalisation".

"We are expecting farm leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Columbia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Fiji, South Africa, the Philippines, New Zealand and Canada. We will also be joined by the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Dean Kleckner, and observers from Zimbabwe", Mr McGauchie said.

"NFF will take them to see sugar, beef, wool, cotton and dryland cropping enterprises in a tour of rural New South Wales on March the 29th and 30th, ", and NFF is delighted that the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, will be able to join us", he said.

"The farm leaders will return to Sydney in time for the 18th Ministerial meeting, which is expected to establish the negotiating position of the Cairns Group in the lead-up to the 1999 Round of global trade negotiations on agriculture".

"We expect the farm leaders to send a strong message to their Ministers, and the rest of the world, that Cairns Group farmers are strongly supportive of the ambitious reform agenda for 1999. Farmers also expect the Cairns Group to take a resolute position in the World Trade Organisation", Mr McGauchie said.

"NFF will also present a trade seminar to discuss technical aspects of the 1999 negotiations for the farm leaders in Sydney, co-ordinated by Alan Oxley - former Australian Ambassador to the Uruguay Round of GATT", he said.

"The week-long program is expected to generate strong interest in the 1999 agriculture negotiations, and send a message to countries who want to 'stop the clock' on reform that the Cairns Group is resolute on the need for liberalisation".

Addressing the Conference, the General Manager of QBE Insurance, Mr Raymond Jones said QBE was delighted to be involved in the historic event.

"In Australia we have strong business relationships with the major farmers' associations and the NFF".

"In addition to our strong domestic position, we are a major Australian-owned general insurance and reinsurance group operating in 23 countries world-wide. We have business operations in many of the countries which will be represented at this important event", Mr Jones said.

Next Media Releas:
27/3/1998 Cairns Group Farm Leaders due tomorrow for historic meeting for liberalisation of world agricultural trade