Poor nations should open markets: Australia

Cairns, September 18 :

Australia will Tuesday launch an 11th-hour attempt to revive hobbled World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks by urging developing nations to open up their markets to farm goods. Australian trade minister Mark Vaile said he would use the 20th anniversary of the Cairns Group to push for poorer countries to soften their stance on market access.

Speaking a day before the formal start of talks in the northeastern city of Cairns, Vaile said he would also move to push forward talks with the United States and EU aimed at breathing life into the Doha round. “It is also time to have a frank discussion about the aspirations of developing countries in these trade talks,” he told the Australian Associated Press in Canberra.

“I think there is a case to be made that if global trade is to be liberalised, all tariffs should be subject to some sort of cut,” the minister said. The meeting was initially called to mark the 20th anniversary of the Cairns Group, the 18-nation grouping of agricultural exporters formed in the tourist town alongside the Great Barrier Reef in 1986.

But after WTO’s Doha round of talks were suspended in late July, Vaile expanded the meeting to include US, European Union and WTO representatives in the hope of reviving the negotiations that failed to broker a deal on reducing protection of agricultural and industrial goods.

In addition to trying to broker concession from developing countries, Australia will also push the US government to slash domestic farming subsidies by a further five billion US dollars and for the EU to cut tariffs by another five per cent.