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Cairns Group Farm Leaders Reaffirm the Importance of The Open, Fair and Rules-Based Trade of Agricultural Goods to Food Security During The COVID-19 Pandemic

3 June 2020

The Cairns Group Farm Leaders representing Australia, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand and Uruguay issued the following statement:

"Free, fair and open trade between nations under an international rules-based system is key to ensuring food security is not compromised in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cairns Group Farm Leaders strongly support the joint statement issued on the 31st of March by the heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) which calls on governments to minimise the impact of COVID-19 related border restrictions on trade in food.

The Cairns Group Farm Leaders also emphatically agrees with the recent joint statement from the Trade Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, which calls for an acceleration of trade liberalisation and reform of the World Trade Organisation.

Maximising each nation's comparative advantage and efficiently distributing food through agricultural trade is vital to ensuring that, while governments around the world are taking appropriate measures to limit the impact of COVID-19, there is also sufficient amounts of nutritious food available to meet the needs of all people.

It is also critical that during this time world leaders not only speak to the importance of trade to global food security, but also follow through with decisive actions that enhance the international rules-based trade of agricultural goods. By taking concrete actions and reducing trade distorting measures such as subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff measures, nations can bolster global food security not only throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but also into the future.

Stabilising global food markets and reallocating food from surplus to deficit regions through liberalised global trade is now more important than ever. Nations have worked hard over decades to reduce barriers to trade in food, and this global crisis demonstrates the need to continue reducing those barriers.

Cairns Group Farm Leaders are alarmed at reports of some nations making decisions to restrict the trade of food. Such decisions will risk harming the world's poorest, which history has shown suffer the consequences of agricultural trade disruptions. We strongly encourage nations to resist pressure to suspend food exports and to maintain the integrity of international supply chains to ensure the efficient distribution of food."

Key Links:

Joint statement by the heads of the FAO, WTO and WHO: www.wto.org/english/news_e/news20_e/igo_26mar20_e.htm

Joint statement from the Trade Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom: www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/free-trade-essential-to-global-standards-of-living/news-story

About the Cairns Group:
cairnsgroup.org/Pages/Introduction.aspx

About the Cairns Group Farm Leaders:
www.cairnsgroupfarmers.org/about.html


Previous Media Releas:
27/7/2018 Cairns Group Farm Leaders disappointed at new US agricultural subsidies