Home' National Farmers Federation : Annual Review 2009-2010 Contents NATIONAL FARMERS' FEDERATION ANNUAL REVIEW 2009-10 39
While it is now largely recognised that
while technically the round could easily be
completed in the very short term (i.e. by early
2011) it is a lack of political will that is the real
stumbling block to driving an agreement.
In particular, the focus has been on the United
States, which still has not yet indicated a
willingness to actively move forward with the
Doha negotiations and with President Barack
Obama's ratings su ering, active pursuit of
the trade liberalisation agenda will remain
politically sensitive for his administration.
The challenge for the NFF now is how we make
a contribution to kick-starting the negotiations
and where will the impetus come from?
With this in mind, in late April the NFF
coordinated farmers from Cairns Group
countries to meet in Punta del Este, Uruguay,
to coincide with the Cairns Group Ministerial
meeting. NFF President David Crombie chairs
the Cairns Group Farm Leaders (CGFL) and led
the Australian delegation.
The CGFL brings together farm leaders from
around the world to champion the need
for a freer trading environment to facilitate
the movement of agricultural goods. It is
an extremely valuable forum as it involves
farmers from both developed and developing
countries from all corners of the globe.
Despite our di erences, we each share a
common goal of removing the scourge of
protectionism from agricultural trade that has
plagued the sector for so long.
In attendance at the Punta del Este meetings
were farm leaders from Uruguay, Brazil,
Argentina, Paraguay, New Zealand, South
Africa, Australia and Canada.
The CGFL had a good dialogue about the
challenges our respective farmers face at
present, as well as a robust debate about
our views on trade which we stated in a
communiqué that was delivered in person to
Cairns Group Ministers also present. We also
had informal meetings with Simon Crean, the
Uruguayan Trade Minister, the head of the WTO
(Pascal Lamy), and the new United States WTO
Agriculture Negotiator Isi Siddiqui.
While the Doha Round remains at a standstill
and frustrations remain, on a more positive
note the meetings demonstrated that the
CGFL network is strong and will continue
to be a vocal advocate for multilateral trade
The CGFL continue to recognise that the
greatest potential bene ts for Australian
farmers and, indeed, the broader domestic
and international community come from
multilateral trade reform. Multilateral reform
is also the only negotiating forum that deals
with all forms of trade distorting policies,
while bringing agriculture more fully under
international trade rules.
The bene ts of these trading rules should
not be understated in terms of providing a
binding and enforceable mechanism to resolve
international trade disputes, making trade
more secure and predictable.
All these potential bene ts are at risk while the
Doha Round ounders.
Bilateral and regional trade
Despite the recognition that the gains from
multilateral liberalisation are larger than
bilateral and regional trade reform, the NFF
notes WTO estimates that close to 400 free
trade agreements will be in force globally by
the end of 2010, while the multilateral reform
The political reality of the important role that
bilateral and regional trade agreements can
play is ever increasing. This comes not only
from a desire to open up new markets and
improve economic welfare, but also derives
from defensive reasons.
It is no longer realistic or fair to simply classify
bilateral and regional trade agreements as
being counter-productive or a distraction to
gaining real positive outcomes.
Therefore, while multilateral trade reform
remains the priority trade policy objective for
the NFF, we remain committed to the pursuit
of high quality bilateral and regional trade
agreements under strict principles. The NFF will
continue to drive these agreements on both
o ensive and defensive grounds.
The Australian Government remains in FTA
negotiations with the Republic of Korea, China,
Japan, Malaysia, the Trans Paci c Partnership,
the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Paci c
Island nations. In addition, the ASEAN-Australia-
New Zealand FTA o cially came into e ect
from 1 January 2010.
In addition, the NFF is hopeful that an FTA with
Indonesia will also soon be kick-started. In
preparation for this, the NFF visited Indonesia
in early 2010 to gain an understanding of
the market and make contact with NFF's
counterpart organisation in Indonesia before
any bilateral negotiation is announced.
The NFF also used the trip to demonstrate to
the Indonesian Government and the Australian
Government that agriculture (and the NFF)
is an important stakeholder in any trade
The NFF is committed to driving ambitious
outcomes in existing and future bilateral
and regional trade negotiations that deliver
tangible commercial bene ts to Australian
EU beef access
In a time when good news stories for trade
liberalisation have been disappointingly lean,
the NFF was pleased in January 2010, when
the European Commission (EC) announced
that the Australian Government Department
of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has been
authorised to issue certi cates for the supply
of high quality grain-fed beef to the European
This product can be imported under a new
20,000 tonne grain-fed beef quota established
by the EC in July 2009.
• Charlie McElhone is the NFF's Manager --
Economic and Trade.
"The NFF has specifically recognised the need for a robust
country of origin labelling system underpinned by legislation that
provides consumers with clear information."
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