September 15, 2003



WTO Talks Washout Disappoints Australia


Australia is disappointed by the collapse of World Trade Organization talks at Cancun, Mexico, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said Monday.


The five-day Cancun meeting was seen as an important midpoint for the current Doha round of world trade talks, due to conclude before 2005. The WTO already has missed several key deadlines to set a framework for an agreement.


Vaile said the Cancun ministerial meeting was supposed to be about securing better market access for farmers, manufacturers and service providers from all WTO's 148 member countries.


But the talks became deadlocked on several issues, namely trade and investment, trade and competition, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation, he said.


"In the end this deadlock precluded the possibility of negotiations on agriculture and industrial products," he said in a statement.


"The failure to secure progress in market access is a great disappointment," he said.


Vaile said the conference was due to consider commitments on domestic support, market access and export subsidies.


This fell short of Australia's expectations with further improvements in market access in both agriculture and manufactures required, he said.