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Cairns group ministerial meeting: opening statement

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V Μ . φ



No MN8 Date 17 March 1989 EMBARGOED FOR




Following is the text of the opening statement by the Minister for Trade Negotiations, Michael Duffy, to the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Waitangi, New Zealand, on 17 March:

opsroro s t a t e m e n t b y t b s b o n m i c h a b l d o p f y u p ,




17 MARCH 1989

Thank you Hr Chairman.

i would at the outset like to thank you, Mr Chairman, for your

generous offer to host this meeting, and to express my appreciation

for the excellent arrangements made by the Government of New

Zealand to facilitate our gathering here in Waitangi·

On a personal note, I must cay that I aee two outstanding feature* in this venue. One is that it is in such an historic and attractive setting. The other is that, unlike everywhere else that I have

been in recent weeks# it is not on the other side of the world I Por both I am extremely grateful·

As the international timetable of these negotiations has evolved

- particularly following the EC/US meeting of last week - I see our meeting here as ideally placed to prepare the Cairns

Group for the important processes leading up to the April t n c meeting, X hope that, aa a result of our deliberations here

in Waitangi over the next few days we will be able to maximise

the Cairns Group *e input into those negotiations·

Looking around this room, I am pleased to see that eo many Ministers end senior officials who attended the Mid-Term Review and previoue

gatherings of this Group nave been able to take up Mike Moore's invitation to come to New Zealand. This is a clear reflection

of the strong co-operative spirit which binds this Group. It

also serves to demonstrate our shared commitment to achieving

an agreed substantive outcome on agriculture in April. This


is vital given both the importance of the agriculture issue

in itself and the urgent need to get the Uruguay Round moving

again in a balanced way.

We all knew - indeed, for many of ue, from painful experience

- why an agreement on agriculture wae not possible at Montreal,

it was a direct result of the inflexibility of the United States

and the European Community and their failure to demonstrate

genuine political commitment to bridge their important differences over the objectives for long-term reform on agricultural trade.

There were of course many other factors underlying the impasse

but little point would be served by detailing them here. It

is however an experience from which we, and - more importantly

- the twe majors, should learn. We can not afford a repeat ,

in April.

I see that there are now two tasks for the resumed negotiations.

First# we need to secure from our negotiating partners a clear

understanding of what the negotiations are about on the long

term. If you like we need what Arthur Dunkel calls a "road

map" to guide our negotiators to the end of the Round.

It is critical that we get this right. The importance of the Mid-Term Review process is that it will establish the first

major sign posts on our road map since the Punta Declaration.

They will guide the negotiations to the end of the Round. For

this reason it is important that they tell us where we are going

- and hew fast·

We cannot afford to leave scope for disputes as to what those

sign posts mean. We cannot therefore afford to have language emerge from the Mid-Term Review which merely masks, or papers

over, fundamental differences in view about where we are going

9Π agriculture 1n the Round. It muet bo clear te all parLivlpants

what we are, and what we are not agreeing to in April or we

will simply have a re-run of the arid debate over the objectives for the Round which we have seen in the last two years.

The second task for the resumed negotiation· is to take up the

opportunity that w «b missed at Montreal to demonstrate to the

international community that Uruguay Round participants are

capable of making the commitment which we have all known for

years is needed to arrest and out back the forms of Government

support which have corrupted agricultural markets for a generation.

ttow difficult w i n our task be? I sense from ay discussion·

with key playere, and from reports from Geneva, that there ha·

been welcome movement from the position reached at Montreal.

There are Indications that this movement may have gathered momentum

in recent days,

what has allowed some freeing up of positions has been a greater .

flexibility shown by the United states both as regards the identification

of objectives for the long-term and in being prepared to address

- without prior conditions - measures which might be implemented

in the short-term. I believe that the early days of the Bush

Administration have signalled a more realistic approach to the

negotiations and a sense of urgency about the need to get a

worthwhile outcome in April,

Regrettably, this flexibility has not been matched by the official

position taken by the b c in Geneva. What our officials In Geneva

have heard from the BC is that the only way to achieve reductions

in support la through the use of an aggregate measure, that

no commitments can be given which impose discipline over the

fundamental element· of the Common Agriculture Policy, and that

credit for reform of that policy since 1984 must he given ae part of any short-term package. And, ae at Montreal, the Community remains vague on the pace and extent of long-term reform.

if this was to be the extent of the imagination and flexibility

which the BC een bring to these negotiations then I am afraid

that there will be no result on agriculture in April, in that case, we eeuld well be looking at the beginning of the end of

the Uruguay Round. It was the standoff between the US and the 1C which stalled the Montreal meeting because others were not

prepared to see agriculture cast adrift: to find a tempo slower


than that of the Round as a whole. Continued intransigence

by either or both major parties will see the Round plunged deeper

into crisis.

But I am pleased to be able to report from my recent discussione

with the us, e c and g a t t personnel that there have been some

encouraging developments in the atmosphere of the negotiations

in recent weeks, in particular ϊ understand that the latest

talks between the ns and BC were conducted in a muoh more positive

way than previously, and that constructive progress on the agricultural issue was made. I stress, however, that there ie only one place

that substantive progress can be formally negotiated. That

is in the negotiations in Geneva - and they still have a substantive

way to go. '

One thing I would say is I do not think it coincidental that

the VS/EC discusalone at laat commenced a constructive negotiating

phase last week. I think both at last really do realise that

without progress on agriculture, the Uruguay Round will Stall.

I made this message very clear during my recent visits, as Cairns Group Chairman, to Europe and the US. The timing of our meeting

clearly put pressure on the US and BC to provide a signal to

our Group that progress is being made.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that words such as "rebalancing", "tariffication", "frees·" and "outback" mask

fundamental leauea which cannot be resolved by the stroke of a pen. They can only be resolved through political will - and

this must be demonstrated by Abril.

This ie why our own meeting here le so important. We must ensure

that we leave Waitangi with a very clear view of the kind of

package which would be acceptable to the Group in April. We must be prepared to give every aesietenoe to Arthur Dunkel in

his efforts to move the process forward. And we must be prepared to deliver a strong and unambiguous message to the United State·

and the European Community aa to the heavy responsibility which

they now bear in seeking to secure a mid-term agreement on agriculture

and, through it, to enable the Uruguay Round to regain momentum on its comprehensive agenda.