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Australia supports African calls for cotton trade reform.

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Sandy Macdonald National Party Senator for NSW 12 September 2003

Australia supports African calls for Cotton trade reform Australia today lent its support to demands from four West African nations for an end to cotton subsidies that boost production in rich countries and distort trade.

National Party Senator Sandy Macdonald presented Australia’s call for fairer trade in cotton to the Fifth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico, where he is a member of a bipartisan Parliamentary delegation led by Trade Minister Mark Vaile.

“As a major agricultural producer who continues to campaign vigorously with our Cairns Group colleagues for reform of international trade, Australia strongly supports the call by the four African countries to eliminate cotton subsidies all around the world,” Senator Macdonald told the WTO conference.

“Australia is a major producer and exporter of fibres including cotton and wool and thus knows from first hand experience the disastrous impact of subsidies on international trade,” he said.

“Australian cotton producers, like their African counterparts, receive no subsidies from government.

“There is no more shocking example of the damage done by subsidies in rich countries than the case of cotton. It is not the only example - it applies equally in many other commodity sectors of interest to developing countries - but it is certainly one of the worst.”

Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali have painted a graphic and tragic picture of the economic, social and humanitarian impact caused by the domestic support and export practices of rich developed countries. Australia supports their call for action to eliminate the subsidies that keep their farmers in poverty and misery.

Senator Macdonald said this can be done by:

• Agreeing on a date for eliminating all forms of export subsidies. In our view such subsidies including export credits should be phased out over three years;

• The substantial reduction or elimination of all forms of trade-distorting domestic support;

• The removal of all tariffs on cotton fibre, yarn, textiles and apparel.

Media Contact: Rachel Kingsford Smith 6766 6998 / 0427 570 506

Senator Macdonald will return from Cancun on Wednesday 17 September.