12 Sep 2011

Cairns group makes last push for trade settlement

7:20 am on 12 September 2011

Farm leaders from the Cairns group of agricultural exporting countries are pushing for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to make a last gasp effort to conclude a new trade agreement.

Farming representatives and Ministers from the 19 Cairns Group members, including New Zealand, have been meeting at Sasakatoon in Canada.

The Cairns Group has been at the forefront of the drive to eliminate trade barriers under the Doha Round of negotiations which have been going on for a decade without any resolution.

Farm leaders have called on the WTO and governments to stick to their earlier commitments to remove export subsidies as well as break down barriers to market access and export competition and reduce domestic support measures.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, who's been at the Cairns Group meeting, says a ministerial meeting planned for December is likely to be the very last chance to rescue the Doha Round.

He says the meeting is likely to be make or break, because the United States has elections next year and is unlikely to take interest in trade talks at that time.

Mr Mills says the Cairns Group doesn't want to give up yet because a multilateral trade breakthrough would be of enormous benefit to New Zealand farmers.