3 April 1998

…and wide changes to world farm trade?

WIDE ranging reforms in world farm trade will be demanded in the next round of World Trade Organisation talks in 1999.

Meeting in Sydney, Australia, this week, the Cairns group, which will represent 14 countries in the talks in 1999, said members continued to suffer from protective measures which hindered trade, despite some gains in the Uruguay round.

Developing countries were hardest hit, since trade distortions saw products competing unfairly on their domestic markets, undermining efficiency and constraining development.

World subsidies still amounted to about $280bn a year, compared to total farm trade of $600bn a year, said the group. Members had to compete with those direct subsidies, as well as non-tariff trade barriers such as the EU ban on hormonal growth promoters and the use of credits to aid exports.

Gains from full liberalisation of world trade would be worth billions of dollars to the beef and sheep industries. President of the cattle council for Australia, John Wyld, said the beef industrys target was for a 50% reduction in import barriers in the EU. &#42