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In declaring closed the Five Nations Beef Conference in Queenstown yesterday, chairman Jeff Grant said the group had used the two-day conference to reaffirm its commitment to liberalisation in the international beef trade.

Grant said the overriding principle of the Five Nations Beef Conference (involving Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States) is to meet or exceed global consumers' expectations in respect of beef, while eliminating non-scientific and political trade restrictions for the benefit of all beef producers. "Heading into the upcoming rounds of WTO negotiations, further market liberalisation and the reduction of production and trade distorting programs remains our key priority, along with improving market access."

"We also support the principle of coordinating and correlating bilateral agreements with the Doha Round. This will allow us to maximise trade benefits and minimise trade distortions," he said.

The third phase of the Magellan Project on global beef liberalisation was also presented to the delegates in Queenstown. "The Magellan Project looked at the potential benefits to the Five Nations from the WTO Doha Round proposals and certainly provided some food for thought."

The Five Nations also undertook to send a combined delegation to Tokyo in an attempt to persuade the Japanese government not to implement the 'snapback' provision on beef imports, Grant said. "The Japanese believe that beef imports are hurting their domestic production, but the reality is that their domestic beef industry is not being adversely affected by the recovery of imports following Japan's BSE problems."

The Five Nations' commitment to trade reform demonstrated its ability to work together to develop an international strategy as a tool for ongoing political efforts to effect meaningful change for beef producers, Grant said. "Although we as separate countries all have our own interests to push, we realise that by working together and putting our differences aside we increase our chances of being heard."

"Essentially, we all want the same thing\; to improve the international beef market and this conference will go some way towards doing that."

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