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U.S. Pleased by Meetings With Cairns Group Nations

Progress made in advancing global free trade

Posted: April 5, 2005

Washington -- The United States has reached a "very satisfying conclusion" to its March 31 meetings with a global coalition of 17 agricultural exporting nations, says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.

In a statement released that day, Johanns said the meetings, held in Cartagena, Colombia, gave the United States an opportunity to make progress in advancing global free trade.

Dohanns said he and other officials from his department talked with the coalition -- known as the Cairns Group -- about ways to work together "in making progress in the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organization." That agenda is aimed at lowering tariffs and nontariff barriers in order to increase international trade.

The Cairns Group, with 10 of its members from the Americas, held its 27th ministerial meeting March 30-April 1 in Cartagena on such major trade issues as the proposed U.S. Free Trade Agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) and the importance of agreeing on methods for liberalizing trade.

The objectives of the United States and Cairns Group on advancing free trade have often coincided, Johanns indicated. He added that while in Cartagena, U.S. officials discussed with their Colombian hosts another proposed trade pact called the Andean Free Trade Agreement. The United States concluded the eighth round of talks with Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru in March on creating that Andean pact.

Johanns said two-way agricultural trade between the three Andean countries and the United States currently tops $3 billion a year. He added that "our Andean friends rightly view a cutting-edge [free-trade agreement with the United States] as a key component in their economic growth and reform plans."

The United States, he said, sees the Andean agreement as a "great way to open markets and opportunities in support of our broader goals in our hemisphere."

The Cairns Group, named for the city in Australia where it was formed in 1986, has launched a global campaign for free trade in agriculture in an effort to ensure that the current round of world trade talks delivers cuts in agricultural subsidies and increases in market access.

The Cairns Group held its previous ministerial meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, in February 2004. Members of the group say that, by acting collectively, they have had more influence on agriculture negotiations than any individual nation could achieve independently. The Cairns Group says global trade liberalization must continue to support the economic needs of nations in the developing world.

The 10 nations in the Americas that belong to the Cairns Group are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay. Other members are Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

 

 

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