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Australia marginalised amid trade talks collapse.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES

15 September 2003

AUSTRALIA MARGINALISED AMID TRADE TALKS COLLAPSE

The collapse of the WTO trade talks in Cancun is bad news for Australian farmers and signals the declining influence of Australia as leader of the Cairns Group of trading nations.

It is clear the Howard Government’s obsession with negotiating bilateral trade deals has diverted Australia’s focus from realising valuable multilateral trade access through the WTO Doha round.

Australia failed to pick up signals that the developing world has run out of patience with the hypocrisy of developed nations that insist on open market access but refuse to dismantle costly and trade distorting domestic producer support.

This frustration resulted in the formation of the G21 Group of developing nations.

The establishment of the G21 Group, which includes a number of Cairns Group members, may signal a permanent decline in the influence of the Cairns Group and Australia’s role in world trade negotiations.

Australia should have focused on building an effective coalition of developing countries and efficient food producers.

This is a major opportunity lost by the Howard Government.

Cancun, Mexico

For Comment: Jack Lake 02 6277 3843 or 0438 773 843

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au