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Glimmer of Hope Remains for WTO Talks

Australian trade minister sees release of negotiating texts as a sign that Doha talks still have life.

Australian Minister for Trade, Warren Truss, has welcomed the release overnight, of draft negotiating texts for World trade Organization Doha Round trade talks by the chairs of the negotiating groups on market access. His perspective on the negotiations offers hope that the talks may continue. He outlined both his optimism for the talks and his concerns for Australian farmers over the weekend.

 "These texts in agriculture and industrial tariffs make up an important attempt to move the Doha negotiations forward," he said.

"This follows the breakdown of discussions between the G4 (European Union, United States, India and Brazil) last month.

"While not underestimating the challenges that lie ahead, Australia remains strongly committed to doing all that is possible to achieve an ambitious outcome in the negotiations this year. 

"My initial impression is that these documents provide a solid basis for moving discussions forward in the coming months, a process in which Australia will be an active participant.

"That said, the texts contain elements we do not support, such as some of what is being proposed on industrial tariff cuts and state trading enterprises," he adds.

Truss notes that the agriculture text also still needs work in the key area of agricultural market access so that his country can be sure there will be new trade opportunities for Australian farmers.

"The bottom line for Australia remains the need to create new commercially usable opportunities for Australian agriculture, manufactures and services exporters," he adds. Those same issues are often a concern for U.S. negotiators as they review WTO draft texts.

Truss said there will be an initial discussion of the agriculture exporters, in Geneva next week. August will provide an opportunity for WTO members to study the texts in more detail and intensive negotiations will then recommence from early September.

SOURCE: Rural Press national rural news, updated daily by FarmOnline.

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