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Australian pledge on global food security: $1 billion over the next four years



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AA44 June 3 1998

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, THE HON ALEXANDER DOWNER MP, AND THE MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY, THE HON JOHN ANDERSON MP

Australian Pledge On Global Food Security: $1 billion over the next four years.

We are pleased to announce today that the Australian Government, through its aid program, will provide a minimum of $ 1 billion in food security measures over the next four financial years.

This results from a review of how we can best assist our neighbours in response to the Asian financial crisis and the effects of El Nino as well as meeting our other international commitments.

We have already responded by substantially increasing our food aid and related food security efforts.

We expect these efforts to continue for some time as affected economies recover. Current events have brought into sharp focus the need to maximise the impact of the resources we allocate to this assistance.

In addressing these pressing issues we are mindful of the need for all people to have access to the food needed for an active and healthy life. Open and undistorted markets which encourage sustainable domestic production and efficient trade flows are fundamental to providing access and improving living standards by encouraging economic growth. This is a key element in what is regarded by the international community as 'food security'.

But for a whole range of reasons, including man-made and natural disasters, there is a lack of food security in many parts of the world. Without food security, together with the many other elements that make up civilised society, the world will never be at peace.

Australia is committed to help developing countries, especially our neighbours, deal with emergency situations. To this end, we aim to improve food security, particularly in most needy areas.

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The multi year pledge we make today will ensure a minimum level of Australian Government support for agricultural, fisheries and forestry projects, for scholarships to train developing country citizens in these disciplines, for research in the same disciplines and for food aid.

Australia strongly supports further liberalisation of agricultural trade. This will lead to substantial benefits for all countries, including in food security terms. But we recognise the need to deal with short term difficulties while economies adjust to changing agricultural trading environments, as well as with food shortages that will periodically occur.

The Government believes that this pledge and its focus on the combination of food aid and targeted food security enhancing activities will make a substantial contribution to dealing with these problems. The package also represents a significant contribution to meeting Australia’s commitments under the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Mr Downer’s office) (02) 6277 7500/0411 414 695 Rob Haynes (Mr Anderson’s office) (02) 6277 7520/0419 493 511 Matt Francis (AusAID) (02) 6206 4967/0417 683 126