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WTO: agricultural and non-agricultural market access negotiating texts.

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Media release

18 July, 2007

WTO : Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Market Access Negotiating Texts

Australian Minister for Trade, Warren Truss, has welcomed the release overnight of draft negotiating texts for WTO Doha Round trade talks by the Chairs of the negotiating groups on Agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA).

“These texts in agriculture and industrial tariffs are an important attempt to move the Doha negotiations forward following the breakdown of discussion between the G4 (European Union, United States, India and Brazil) last month,” Mr Truss said.

“While not underestimating the challenges that lie ahead, Australia remains strongly committed to doing all that is possible to achieve an ambitious outcome in the negotiations this year.

“My initial impression is that these documents capture important progress that has been made in the negotiations this year, and this includes ideas that have been put forward by Australia and the Cairns Group on a number of issues. They provide a solid basis for moving discussions forward in the coming months, a process in which Australia will be an active participant.

“That said, the texts contain elements we do not support, such as some of what is being proposed on industrial tariff cuts and state trading enterprises. The agriculture text also still needs work in the key area of agricultural market access so that we can be sure there will be new trade opportunities for Australian farmers. We will be taking every opportunity to register our concerns on these issues as part of the process of building consensus on texts that are acceptable to all WTO members.

“The bottom line for Australia remains the need to create new commercially usable opportunities for Australian agriculture, manufactures and services exporters. Australia will be looking for greater certainty on the overall level of ambition in all of these areas.

Mr Truss said it was also important to recognise that these texts only deal with two parts of the Doha negotiations and that there are other areas where Australia needs progress.

“While agriculture and industrial tariffs are important, we also need progress in the services negotiations which is also a key area for Australia given the vital importance of this sector to the Australian economy.”

Mr Truss said there will be an initial discussion of the agriculture and NAMA documents in Geneva next week. August will provide an opportunity for WTO

members to study the texts in more detail and intensive negotiations will then recommence from early September.

Media Inquiries: Minister Truss' office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555