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Equal treatment for agricultural trade the goal

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Media Release

Canberra ACT 2601 Facsimile (02) 6272 2001

International code 616

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18 March 1999

Equal treatment for agricultural trade the goal

‘The paradox where the more efficient agricultural producers are penalised while barriers to capital, technology and industrial goods are reduced to a minimum or eliminated is unacceptable for the Cairns Group’, Mr Carlos Perez del Castillo, the permanent representative of Uruguay to the World Trade Organisation, said today when speaking at the WTO agricultural trade liberalisation session at OUTLOOK 99.

O ur basic objective should be to subject trade in agricultural products to the same rules and disciplines as trade in other goods’, Mr del Castillo added.

Mr Ivan Roberts, ABARE, agreed with Ambassador Perez del Castillo saying, ‘agriculture has lagged behind in terms of multilateral liberalisation, and the upcoming negotiations are an opportunity to bring agriculture more in line with other sectors’.

Mr Allan McKinnon, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, warned that while the negotiations represent an opportunity to further agricultural liberalisation, the opponents of liberalisation are developing strategies to maintain or even increase protection and that, ‘we will also need to bring with us the whole of the Australian agriculture sector — to fail to do

so could expose our credibility in the negotiations to attack from those who seek to slow or halt reform’.

Beverly Simmonds of the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service spoke on the United States’ commitment to a comprehensive trade round. While acknowledging some differences, she emphasised the US wish to cooperate with Cains Group Countries to bring agriculture into the mainstream of the multilateral trade system.

Speakers at the session, WTO agricultural trade liberalisation session, were: Ivan Roberts, Senior Economist, ABARE; Beverley Simmonds, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Trade Policy Foreign Agricultural Service, US Department o f Agriculture; Ambassador Carlos Perez del Castillo, permanent representative o f Uruguay to the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, Geneva; and Allan McKinnon, Assistant Secretary Agriculture Branch, Department o f Foreign Affairs and Trade.

For further information contact: During the conference, Margaret Day,'OUTLOOK Media Centre on (02 6276 5242 or 018 487 825 After the conference, Ivan Roberts, ABARE on (02) 6272 2239

ABARE acknowledges the support of its major Outlook conference partner, Cisco Systems.