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Global coalition of farmers call for trade liberalisation

Farm leaders from around the world are renewing calls for trade liberalisation this week, as global trade ministers get together in Morocco.

The Cairns Group Farm Leaders have called on delegates from Cairns Group countries to the Morocco meeting to reaffirm their commitment to a robust, rules-based global trading system with a level playing field for agricultural trade. Cairns Group Farm Leaders are a group of farm organisations from Cairns Group countries, a coalition of agricultural exporting countries. The current statement has been endorsed by farm leaders from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay.

The Morocco meeting is a precursor to the 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Council, which will be held in Buenos Aires in December this year.

Cairns Group Farm Leaders chair and National Farmers' Federation (Australia) President, Ms Fiona Simson is calling on Cairns Group governments to be ambitious and push for disciplines on domestic support as the next crucial step in liberalising agricultural trade.

"The past two meetings WTO Ministerial Conference meetings achieved significant reforms.

"In Bali in 2013, we saw the trade facilitation agreement negotiated, which has now come into force and agreement was reached about administration of tariff rate quotas.

"In Nairobi in 2015, we saw WTO members agree to phase out export subsidies. No doubt, these were great steps forward," Ms Simson said.

We remain committed to open and free trade and we are unashamedly optimistic... [we] cannot and will not let pessimists and protectionists frame the debate.
Fiona Simson, NFF President and Cairns Group Chair

"Now in Buenos Aires in December, we need to build on that by putting greater disciplines on domestic support payments and a broader focus on export competition. At the same time, we need to keep momentum going and set out a longer-term pathway to greater market access for agricultural products," Ms Simson said.

In anticipation of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, the Cairns Group has released a joint statement of intent - outlining expectations for the meeting.

"The Cairns Group Farm Leaders cannot and will not let pessimists and protectionists frame the debate. We remain committed to open and free trade and we are unashamedly optimistic.

"The benefits of specialisation and trade are well known - in this, the 200th anniversary of David Ricardo's elucidation of the concept of comparative advantage - it would be fitting tribute to make real headway at MC11," Ms Simson concluded.

Cairns Group Farm Leaders Statement of Intent for the Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) 2017 can be found here.

Media release, Cairns Group Farm Leaders call for action at MC11 originally published here.

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