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Farm trade proposals don't go far enough - Lloyd

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Media Release Forfitrther Information: Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Telephone: Facsimile:

06/2774193 06/2772053


Australian farmers should not bank on an early improvement in export prices or market access for agricultural commodities emerging from the latest proposals for trade reform under the GATT Uruguay Round, according to National Party Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, Bruce Lloyd.

Mr Lloyd said the "take it or leave it" package handed down by GATT Director General Arthur Dunkel fell significantly short of the reforms proposed by the Cairns Group of nations and the

United States to phase out subsidies and artificial barriers to world trade in agricultural products.

Mr Lloyd said the package, although disappointing in the level of reform it proposed, did for the first time offer a framework for a more liberal, market orientated and fairer trade in


The 105 member countries of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) have been given until January 13 to accept the package in its entirety or accept the collapse of the Uruguay Round of negotiations which has been under way for the past five years.

If accepted by these countries, there will then be a brief but intense negotiating phase between participants to put in place the proposals on a bilateral basis by the end of March to allow the scheme to commence from January 1, 1993.

It will then continue for six years with a review aiming to

continue the program of agricultural trade liberalisation for a further period.

Mr Lloyd said key features of the farm trade package, included in a 440-page document covering all areas of international trade, w e r e :

• an average 36 per cent cut in tariffs by 1999, with

current non-tariff barriers to be converted to tariffs so that exporters and consumers have a clear picture of the actual protection levels

• a 20 per cent reduction in domestic farm support

arrangements which will include all production subsidies in the European Community and United States

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• a 36 per cent cut in the budget for export subsidies to be implemented alongside a 24 per cent cut in the volume of farm products attracting these subsidies

• cuts to export subsidies for budget outlays and volumes will be calculated from a base period of 1986-90, while domestic support levels will be based on 1986-88 figures

• the opening of closed markets (for example, rice exports to Japan) by the establishment of minimum access levels of three per cent moving to five per cent of domestic

consumption by 1999

He said Australia had wanted a 90 per cent reduction in export subsidies on farm products over 10 years, but the Dunkel package offered only 36 per cent over six years.

"Australia also sought domestic production support to be reduced by 75 per cent over 10 years, but we now face a 20 per cent cut

only over six years.

Mr Lloyd said the world spent a staggering $US300 billion on agricultural subsidies in 1990, of which the European Community, United States and Japan were the major culprits.

Mr Lloyd commended the work done by Trade Minister Neal Blewett in trying to achieve a successful Uruguay Round for Australian farmers.

"Dr Blewett will now have to be very firm to ensure the grey

areas and possible escape clauses of the package are not used by the EC, Japan and the US to further reduce the package's value for Australian farmers," Mr Lloyd said.

ends 23/12/91