Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Cairns Group market access proposal on sensitive products.

Download PDFDownload PDF


Media release

9 March 2007

Cairns Group Market Access Proposal on Sensitive Products

Australian Government Minister for Trade, Warren Truss, has today welcomed agreement by the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters to table a new proposal on ways to deal with so-called ‘Sensitive Products’ in the agriculture negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round.

Mr Truss said the proposal put forward by Australia and the Cairns Group would ensure that the Sensitive Products category could operate in a way that does not unduly restrict the development of significant new commercial opportunities under any new world trade agreement.

“Sensitive Products are a category already agreed in the Doha negotiations which will enable countries to identify a limited number of tariff lines to which a lesser tariff cut will be applied, provided that this is compensated for by tariff quota expansion,” he said.

“This proposal is aimed at ensuring the Doha objective of substantial improvements in market access for all products can be met,” Mr Truss said.

Australia and the Cairns Group have a key interest in ensuring that the Sensitive Products category is operated in a way that delivers significant new commercial opportunities and the best outcomes for farmers.

Mr Truss said that the specific number of sensitive products and the percentages by which quotas will be expanded are still being negotiated with other key players including the United States and European Union.

“The Cairns Group proposal sets a framework that will provide a basis to ensure a genuine, trade-creating outcome.

“This new proposal is the result of significant technical work which has been undertaken in recent months. The proposal provides an easily understandable, pragmatic and transparent formula approach for the expansion of tariff quotas based on a percentage of domestic consumption.

“The Cairns Group will continue to push for the lowest possible number of tariff lines to be designated as Sensitive Products and for commercially-significant quota expansion. We will also continue to push for an overall tariff-cutting formula that goes well beyond some of the current proposals on the table.

“This is the kind of outcome that will ensure new trade can flow, delivering real dollars through new trade opportunities for Australian farmers, as well as those of other Cairns Group countries.”

Mr Truss said he looked forward to continuing contact with other Cairns Group members in coming months.

“Cairns Group ministers will meet in Pakistan next month which will be an important opportunity for ministers to discuss our close cooperation on key issues in the agriculture negotiations including Sensitive Products,” Mr Truss said.

Media Inquiries: Minister Truss' office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555