World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 27 February 2004 (Issue 2004/7)

Key Issues

Cairns Group calls for faster agricultural trade reform

Trade Minister Mark Vaile chaired a meeting of Cairns Group Ministers in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 23-25 February. In a communique released at the conclusion of the meeting, the Cairns Group said that it was fully committed to achieving substantial progress in the Doha Round negotiations in 2004 and that it stood ready to work with all WTO members to push for reform of global agricultural trade. The Cairns Group stated its readiness to work actively over the coming months to agree a framework on negotiating modalities that is consistent with the high level of ambition of the Doha mandate.

Cairns Group Ministers underlined that the elimination of all forms of export subsidies on all products by a specific agreed date was a necessary condition for the success of the negotiations. Ministers also emphasised that the Doha mandate calls for substantial reductions of trade distorting domestic subsidies, and that further movement by the major economies towards the Doha goals was essential. The Cairns Group agreed that all countries should make a contribution on market access, but with appropriate flexibility for developing countries. In conclusion, Ministers stated that the greatest contribution the WTO could make to development was to conclude the negotiations promptly and produce an outcome that opens international agricultural markets by substantially removing distortions in world trade.

Cairns Group Ministers also met with WTO Director-General Dr Supachai, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Derbez, and the new chair of the WTO Agriculture Negotiating Group, Tim Groser. Mr Vaile issued a press release following the conclusion of the Cairns Group meeting.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva


1 Dispute Settlement Body –Special Session

3–5 WTO Trade Policy Review: Sri Lanka

4 Working Party on the Accession of Kazakhstan

8-10 Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

8 Committee on Customs Valuation

9 Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries

12 Committee on Market Access

Contact Us

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Fax: (02) 6261 3514
or e-mail

This bulletin is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It summarises key WTO Doha Round-related activities over the past week.

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