Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cairns Group Pessimism

KS has posted before on the Cairns Group which has just completed its annual meeting in Canada. The outcome could probably be described as a "frank assessment" for the prospects of the current Doha Round of World Trade negotiations. Agricultural trade reform would assist the potential for agricultural development in the Far North as recently featured in Bill Cummings presentation to Cairns Chamber.

"Cairns Group members unanimously agreed that only by adopting a fresh approach could the Round be saved," Dr Emerson said.

"And importantly, invited special guests, including the United States and the European Union, concurred."

Dr Emerson said Australia was willing to play a leading role in developing a new course for the Doha negotiations.

"You can't fix a problem unless you recognise you've got one, and the Cairns Group has pressed the alarm buzzer in the emergency ward," Dr Emerson said.

Proposals for a new course for the Doha Round will need to be discussed ahead of the annual meeting of World Trade Organization Ministers in Geneva in December.

Food security was also discussed at the Saskatoon meeting, with the Cairns Group agreeing that market mechanisms provided the best hope of matching world food supplies with rising demand from a strongly growing world population that would add two billion people to the earth by 2050.

"Already one billion people go to bed hungry every night and many will join them if we don't get this right," Dr Emerson said.

"The Cairns Group agreed that greater trade and investment flows among countries would increase global food production, while trade and investment barriers would deprive hundreds of millions of the world's poor of basic nutrition," Dr Emerson said.

The meeting agreed there was no better time to eliminate agricultural export subsidies and strictly limit farm subsidies, with budgetary pressures in the United States and Europe making farm subsidies legitimate candidates for spending cuts.

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