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Cancun meeting to be significant: Minister

Next week's World Trade Organisation Ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, will be a difficult one, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the multilateral negotiations for the Doha Development Round were half-way through, and the battle lines are now drawn for the Cancun Ministerial.

He said things had gone as far as they can in Geneva at officials' level.

"But really that is only to be expected. The issues at stake go deeper than drafting and only Ministers can provide the necessary impetus."

Mr Sutton said it was good news that agreement had been reached on providing cheap drugs to least developed countries suffering from epidemics, in a trade area known as TRIPS, or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

"This is an important area that the WTO had to tackle effectively."

He said that while some people questioned whether there would be any definitive results out of the Cancun meeting, it was an important opportunity to make progress.

A draft text was issued last week by WTO General Council chairman Carlos Perez del Castillo under his own responsibility after days of debate amongst Geneva's ambassadors. It will form a significant part of the input into the 5th Ministerial Conference to take place in Cancun, Mexico on 10-14 September. The text covers all areas of the negotiations initiated in Doha in 2001.

Mr Sutton said the Chairman's text was not agreed.

"We wanted a more ambitious text. Others wanted a less ambitious text. Both sides have effectively battled each other to a standstill in Geneva.

"So what the Chairman has done is come up with a text that he thinks will be a useful framework. It pleases nobody, but it will help to focus discussions when we get to Cancun. That is its status ? no more and no less.

"Ministers can at last get down to the business of providing the WTO the guidance necessary to move the Doha negotiations and the world trading system forward. Cancun is where the rubber really hits the road. That is where Ministers have to take decisions."

Mr Sutton said the New Zealand agenda for Cancun was clear.

"We need clarity about the language for getting rid of agricultural export subsidies in this round. Export subsidies cause vast damage in developing countries, as well as hurting New Zealand exporters. EU and US coffers have cornered the market for too long.

"And we need to have a robust commitment to securing real improvements in market access for all agricultural products. At the same time domestic support must be reduced ? particularly in the OECD economies that provide more than US$ 300 billion per year to their farmers. I will be working with the Cairns Group and others to make progress."

The negotiations also cover so-called non-agricultural goods including forestry and fisheries products.

Mr Sutton said negotiations on market access for other, non-agricultural products had made some progress.

"But I will be pushing for a more ambitious outcome for our fish, forestry and other manufactured products sectors. This is an area where New Zealand should have the possibility to expand its trade. And on services I will be pressing for other countries to match our offer that is still on the table."

Mr Sutton said the WTO negotiations were still New Zealand's best chance for improved access to overseas markets, but work was still being done on regional and bilateral trade agreements.

He leaves New Zealand for Cambodia tomorrow, where he will attend a CER-AFTA meeting, returning to New Zealand early Saturday morning. He leaves for Cancun on Monday, accompanied by advisers from the private sector, parliament, trade unions and non-government organisations as well as officials.

New Zealand's Specific Objectives

New Zealand's overall approach for the Cancún Conference will be to continue to press for an ambitious outcome from the Doha negotiations;

· On agriculture New Zealand will continue to press for the elimination of export subsidies, substantial reductions in domestic subsidies and substantial improvement in market access; ·

On Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) including forestry and fisheries New Zealand will seek to improve market opportunities for New Zealand exporters through tariff reductions; continue to press for the reduction or elimination of unnecessary non tariff trade barriers (NTB) to New Zealand exports in the negotiation; ·

On services negotiations, New Zealand will seek to secure more predictable and stable access for our services exporters to key markets. Sectors of particular interest to New Zealand include professional services; ·

On intellectual property, New Zealand will continue to support negotiations for a GI register for wines and spirits which is strictly in accord with the Doha mandate; continue to oppose the extension of the level of protection currently afforded to GIs for wines and spirits to GIs for all products; and continue to oppose the idea that GIs should also be addressed in the agriculture negotiations; ·

On trade facilitation New Zealand should seek "modalities" which allow us to pursue a range of enforceable specific enhancements to existing WTO provisions. It is likely that developed countries will have to provide some technical assistance/capacity building to help developing countries in this area; · On transparency in government procurement, New Zealand will be supportive of the principle of transparency as it is in other international contexts, while participating in a way that seeks to ensure that outcomes are not unduly burdensome. ·

On investment, New Zealand's approach is directed essentially to monitoring the negotiations, with more active engagement to the extent necessary to ensure our national interests are not compromised; · On competition, New Zealand will take a moderate and reasonably constructive approach; ·

New Zealand will support Special and Differential Treatment for developing countries. Our priority in this regard will be to secure improved market access by developing countries to others' markets in the context of an overall outcome that achieves market liberalisation; New Zealand will continue to promote sustainable development and enhanced mutual supportiveness of trade and environment through the Doha Round.

The New Zealand Delegation:


Jim Sutton Trade Negotiations Minister and Delegation leader Crawford Falconer principal trade policy advisor Tim Groser Ambassador to the WTO Paul Tipping Ambassador to Mexico Graham Fraser special agricultural trade envoy Derek Leask MFAT trade negotiations division director Chris Carson MAF policy director Mark Sinclair deputy ambassador to the WTO Tony Lynch - MFAT trade negotiations division deputy director Mark Trainor - MFAT trade negotiations division deputy director Trevor Matheson minister's private secretary MFAT Steve Cantwell Treasury principal advisor Meredith Stokdijk MAF senior policy advis

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