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Australia welcomes US agricultural reform proposal.

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Media release Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile

Thursday, June 29, 2000 MVT69/2000

Australia Welcomes US Agriculture Reform Proposal

Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, welcomed the liberalising thrust of an agriculture proposal launched by the United States today.

The proposal will be considered in the first substantive session of WTO agricultural negotiations taking place at the WTO in Geneva.

Mr Vaile noted that the US proposal closely followed the proposal tabled by the Cairns Group last week calling for the abolition of export subsidies.

"It is particularly pleasing to see that the United States, like the Cairns Group, is determined to see the elimination of export subsidies achieved in these negotiations," Mr Vaile said.

"This is essential if we are to see efficient producers, particularly developing countries, able to compete on a fairer footing."

Mr Vaile also welcomed the U.S. objective of achieving substantial cuts in tariff and quota protection for all agriculture products and substantial reductions across a much wider range of domestic subsidies.

"This would remove one of the defects in the current agriculture disciplines which leave important categories of production and trade distorting subsidies exempt from reduction."

Mr Vaile foreshadowed that the Cairns Group would shortly be coming forward with its own negotiating proposals on these subjects.

He added that Australia did not agree with every aspect of the US proposal and had continuing concerns with aspects of US agricultural policy. Australia had spoken out about recent massive subsidies to US farmers and US use of subsidised export credits which can distort world markets.

"But it is pleasing to see that the United States is prepared to show leadership in moving forward with ambitious

agriculture reform. I look forward to continued close cooperation between the Cairns Group, the US and other WTO members over coming months," Mr Vaile added.

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