W.T.O. calls for complete trade agreement in 2010

by Bryan Salvage
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CALGARY, ALBERTA — Ministers from World Trade Organization (W.T.O.) member governments recently agreed the eight-year-old Doha Round negotiations should be concluded quickly during the Seventh Session of the W.T.O. Ministerial Conference. Several ministers called for a political push early in 2010 so the talks can end next year.

Held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Geneva, Switzerland, the general conference theme for discussion was "The W.T.O., the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Economic Environment."

"I am disappointed that the process is not moving faster right now — especially considering the strong support that world leaders voice for the successful completion of the Doha Round of W.T.O. negotiations at meetings such as the G20," said Ted Haney, Canada Beef Export Federation president, who attended the conference.

"The Canadian beef industry will benefit from an ambitious and timely completion of these negotiations," he said. "Our industry stands to gain approximately C$1 billion [$951 million] in additional trade just through improvements in market access. The Canadian beef industry will further benefit through the reduction in trade distorting domestic subsidies and elimination of export subsidies — both of which are part of the proposed deal at this time. Added up, our industry is losing some C$100 million [$95 million] million per month in trade benefit each month that this deal is not signed and implemented.

"I am very pleased that Canada's trade-oriented industry was present and active in Geneva during the W.T.O. Ministerial Meeting," he added. "Representatives from the Canadian beef, cattle, pork, wheat, barley, canola, specialty crops and sugar sectors were present and met with many industry and government representatives to clearly communicate their complete support for liberalized trade available through a successful Doha negotiation. Canada's trade-oriented agriculture sectors stand to gain approximately C$3 billion [$ 2.6 billion] in annual exports just through improved market access. Continued support for a successful Doha Round of W.T.O. negotiations is required in Canada and in most nations' capitals."

Canada’s agricultural sector depends on a fair and open international trading system, with 92% of Canadian farmers reliant upon exports for their livelihood, according to the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (C.A.F.T.A.). "The longer we continue without a multilateral agreement to stabilize trade, the greater the risk that Canadian farmers will be increasingly disadvantaged in international markets by protectionist measures," said Darcy Davis, C.A.F.T.A. president.

The C.A.F.T.A. news release added many countries are using existing rules to maintain export subsidies, support domestic producers and use up flexibilities in current agreements to protect markets from competitive imports from nations like Canada; and that there is also growing use of trade-distorting non-tariff barriers. The call for serious re-engagement in the negotiations was also made by the Cairns Group, a coalition of the world’s major agricultural exporting nations, including Canada, that were organized as a group under the leadership of Australia.

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