Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 10, 2005 18:51 ET

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Minister's Statement

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 10, 2005) -

CANADA WORKS WITH WTO MEMBERS TO ADVANCE NEGOTIATIONS

International Trade Minister Jim Peterson and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Andy Mitchell today made the following statement at the conclusion of World Trade Organization (WTO) discussions held in Zurich, Switzerland, regarding the U.S. proposal on agricultural export subsidies:

"The Doha agriculture negotiations represent a real opportunity to level the international playing field for Canadian producers. Since the start of the negotiations, Canada has sought the elimination of export subsidies as quickly as possible, the maximum possible reduction or elimination of all forms of trade-distorting domestic support, and substantial improvement in market access for all agriculture and food products. We are also committed to defending the ability of producers to choose how to market their products.

"One of our key priorities has been to achieve substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, particularly by the highest spenders, the European Commission and the United States. The negotiations had been stalled, and Canada appreciates the fact that the United States has now taken steps to move the negotiations forward.

"Their new ideas on domestic support, including proposed cuts to "amber" and "blue box" amounts as well as de minimis are a serious contribution, and we are hopeful that their initiative will lead to meaningful reform and changes to farm support programs.

"As the negotiations move forward, Canada will continue to seek meaningful cuts in actual domestic support spending levels. We will also pursue the implementation of disciplines governing blue box payments that ensure they are truly less trade-distorting than amber payments.

"We welcome the suggestion that export subsidies should be eliminated by 2010. The elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies has been a long-standing Canadian objective. While Canada is prepared to address the financing issues related to export state trading enterprises (STEs), we firmly believe that there is no justification for further disciplines on STEs such as the Canadian Wheat Board, which has been found time and again to be trading fairly.

"There remains considerable work on market access, particularly in relation to the appropriate treatment for sensitive products, including the need for flexibility. We need to focus much of our attention on these issues in the coming days.

"Today's meeting also saw positive movement toward Canada's objectives for a tariff reduction formula that provides real market access for non-agricultural goods, and a process that will guarantee commercially meaningful access for Canadian services. Canada also highlighted the importance of rules and movement on the development agenda.

"Thus there is much to be done if modalities are to be developed for the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting, slated for December 2005. Canada is committed to working at both the political and officials levels to ensure a meaningful outcome. We hope that this initiative will provide a much-needed impetus to move the agriculture negotiations forward-something that is urgently needed."

For additional information on agriculture-related WTO terminology, please visit http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/agric_e/agboxes_e.htm.

The Honourable Andy Mitchell

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The Honourable Jim Peterson

Minister of International Trade

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Trade
    Jacqueline LaRocque
    Director of Communications
    (613) 992-7332
    or
    Media Relations Office
    International Trade Canada
    (613) 995-1874
    http://www.international.gc.ca
    or
    Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
    Elizabeth Whiting
    (613) 759-1761
    or
    Media Relations Office
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    1 866 345-7972