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Fonterra Elections Send Clear Signal of Farmer Dissatisfaction

The fact that two of the three sitting directors were not returned to the Fonterra Board is a clear signal that farmers are dissatisfied with Fonterra's performance, says Dairy Farmers of New Zealand Chairman Kevin Wooding.

The successful candidates were sitting director Harry Bayliss and new directors John Wilson, from Te Awamutu, and Stuart Nattrass, from Christchurch.

"Voting in the Fonterra Board elections is the only effective way for farmers to voice their views on the co-operative's performance, said Mr Wooding.

"This result sends a clear message to Fonterra directors to stick to their knitting and focus on delivering profitability to their shareholders.

"I am sure these new directors will have taken note of the need to build better relations with shareholders."

New Zealand Redoubles Efforts Following Agriculture Setback

New Zealand is redoubling its efforts to help build international resolve in the WTO for progress in opening up agriculture trade, following a stalemate in the negotiations at the end of March.

New Zealand remains undeterred by the failure of WTO agriculture negotiators to set the core framework for the agriculture negotiations. Wide differences remain between the Cairns Group (of which New Zealand is a member) and the United States, plus many developing countries, who want ambitious liberalisation reform in line with the mandate agreed by WTO Members at Doha in late 2001.

In contrast, the European Union and Japan are seeking more modest reform that would allow them to continue to protect their farmers. New Zealand will keep working to secure substantial reductions in tariffs, expansion of all tariff quotas, the early elimination of export subsidies and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support.

WTO Ministers will meet in Mexico to review progress in the Doha Round overall in September, and the negotiations are due to conclude with the rest of the Round on 1 January 2005.

Global efforts to improve trade rules for manufactured goods, forestry and fishing have run into heavy weather in Geneva over the scope of negotiations.

A pivotal aim for New Zealand is reducing non-tariff barriers, such as prescriptive standards, environmental regulations, government subsidies and tax treatment – all of which screw the

scrum against our exporters in major sectors such as forestry and fishing.

On tariffs – the up-front import taxes levied on products as they cross the border – New Zealand’s proposal for across-the-board elimination continues to attract support, with the United States and Australia among the main backers.

But a gap is emerging between developed economies like New Zealand and developing countries, some of which argue for less onerous treatment. This divergence will make it more difficult to meet the 31 May deadline for agreeing on the core framework for the negotiation.

Negotiators seeking to open up overseas markets for New Zealand services firms are inviting further input from business and others with an interest in the outcome.

With the March 31 deadline for tabling offers at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva now past, negotiations on the General agreement on Trade in Services, or GTS, have begun in earnest.

New Zealand's ‘initial’ offer is conditional and revocable. This means New Zealand can backtrack if we don’t receive good enough counter-offers. Because of the openness of the New Zealand economy, our offer won’t require changes to existing laws or regulations.

Health, drinking water and public education have been ruled out of New Zealand’s ‘initial’ offer.

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