by SUSAN MANN
Cairns Group countries are meeting in Saskatoon this week to discuss how to break the current impasse in World Trade Organization talks.
A key part of the 36th Cairns Group ministerial meeting Sept. 7-9 is how to re-engineer and move the world trade talks forward, a senior Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada official told reporters during a telephone conference today. The briefing was held under condition that the official not be named. The Cairns member countries will try to develop recommendations for the future work program for the world trade talks’ agricultural negotiations.
The official said the Cairns Group meeting is being held in advance of a WTO ministerial meeting slated for December.
The Cairns Group is a network of like-minded exporting countries working to foster rule-based, multilateral agricultural trade. Canada joined the group in the early 1980s. According to the Cairns Group website, the group includes Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay.
The official said the Cairns Group was instrumental in establishing disciplines on trade-distorting subsidies during the last World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement called the Uruguay Round.
Since the launch of the current round of world trade talks 10 years ago, the Cairns group countries have worked together to influence the agenda of the negotiations and enable concrete rule-based agricultural trade proposals to be developed.
In addition to talking about how to jump-start the stalled world trade talks, officials at the Cairns Group meeting will discuss Russia’s accession to the WTO, food security and other matters that are important to agricultural exporting countries. Part of that is related to Canada’s concern with countries increasingly using non-tariff measures to limit agricultural imports, the official said. BF