Hong Kong a moderate victory for farmers
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(HONG KONG) – Canada’s farm leaders are thanking Canada’s International Trade and Agriculture Ministers, and the WTO negotiating team, for vigorously defending agriculture interests in the Hong Kong talks and for moving towards some agreements that will benefit farmers. By the end of the Hong Kong meeting gains were made on eliminating export subsidies, and some positive steps towards increasing market access and preserving the right of farmers to chose their own marketing systems.
“There’s still a long road ahead of us, particularly in the area of increasing market access for our exporters and maintaining the stability of supply management, but the structure is in place to achieve that goal,” said Bob Friesen, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). “With the agreed elimination of export subsidies, and new wording beneficial to supply management and the Canadian Wheat Board, I think we can call this a moderate victory and a vindication of Canada’s balanced approach.”
In the agreement reached in Hong Kong the wording for market access will allow Canada to continue to negotiate for aggressive tariff reductions and negotiate flexibility in the sensitive product category for supply management. The wording for sensitive products also allows Canada to negotiate for cleaner market access in this category to improve some important export markets. CFA also feels the negotiations on domestic support are headed in the right direction, although there is still concern about the U.S.’ ability to maintain spending by moving support money around between different categories, and concern about equity in commodity-specific caps. The wording on export competition is flexible enough for Canada to continue to negotiate without giving up its right to maintain single-desk state trading enterprises like the Canadian Wheat Board.
“Canada is coming away from this WTO session with gains for both our exporters and our sensitive domestic commodities,” said Friesen. “We’re one step closer to a good deal for all Canadian producers that will benefit Canadian farm incomes.”
Founded in 1935 to provide Canada's farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country's largest farmers' organization. Its members include provincial general farm organizations as well as national and inter-provincial commodity organizations from every province. Through its members, CFA represents over 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families.