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International Trade Policy - Cairns Group Statement

Thematic issues

  • Thailand

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY – Second Committee

Trade Debate

Delivered by the Hon Alan Griffin, MP, on behalf of the Cairns Group

Mr Chair

I have the honour today to speak on behalf of the Cairns Group of 20 agricultural exporting countries, namely, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

Agriculture trade reform is unfinished business.

At the last Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting, during the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013, our Ministers discussed the international trade policy environment, including the Doha Round agriculture negotiations, our shared desire to continue agricultural trade policy reform efforts,

the development dimension to agriculture reform and food security, in accordance with the Doha mandate.

We have pointed on many occasions to the importance of agriculture for development – in many developing countries a significant proportion of the population is still largely dependent on agriculture as a source of income. The Cairns Group wishes to address the global imbalances and distortions in world agricultural trade, whether these be in areas of market access, domestic support or export competition.

It is important we address these distortions not only in terms of creating further market efficiencies and more effective price signals for farmers and investors in agriculture alike, but also as a means of contributing to greater food security.

We are all familiar with the statistics – the FAO estimates that the global population will increase to 9 billion people by 2050 and as a consequence agricultural production will need to increase by 70 per cent. This increase must be achieved sustainably, in the context of growing economic, environmental and social pressures.

The growth in food production to meet this demand will not necessarily occur in the same places where the population is projected to grow. That is why trade will play such a critical role in addressing the nutritional needs of these populations. More investment in agriculture is needed including, where food insecurity challenges are prevalent.

We have pursued reforms through the Doha agriculture negotiations because, amongst other things, we recognise that trade policy reform is crucial in addressing food security. In a world grappling with such vital issues, it concerns us that the imbalances and distortions in agriculture continue to be so much greater than those for industrial goods.

The international community and Members of the Cairns Group want the WTO to deliver concretely in terms of our desire to see agriculture trade reform progress in a way which takes into account the development goals of all Members, but particularly the most vulnerable.

The WTO Bali outcomes were an important step in this regard and we remain committed to implementing all of these decisions. Additionally, we will continue to prioritise our efforts on the pending and outstanding elimination of export subsidies, which are extremely damaging for developing countries. As it was stated in the Cairns Group Communiqué in Bali, it is unacceptable that these most trade distorting measures remain in agriculture more than half a century after their elimination for industrial products.

Mr Chair

The Cairns Group will continue to push the case for agricultural trade reform, and its crucial importance for development, in this 69th Session of the Second Committee, and beyond. Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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