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Australia coaxes RP to remain in Cairns Group

- Marianne V. Go () - May 16, 2002 - 12:00am
Australia is prevailing on the Philippines to remain a member of the Cairns Group as Australia’s Minister of Trade Mark Valle reaffirmed the group’s commitment to meeting developing country objectives in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture negotiations.

"All Cairns Group members would suffer if we allowed the Group to disintegrate as a result of the divisive strategies of the Europeans," Valle said.

Valle stressed that it would be in the interest of both the Philippines and the rest of the Cairns Group if the Philippines remained a member of the trade bloc.

He denied media reports that the Cairns Group failed to help the Philippines at the recent WTO ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar.

The Philippines has been trying to secure market access to the European Union for canned tuna.

Valle argued that the Philippines’ lack of market access to EU’s canned tuna market "can be squarely blamed on the EU’s preferential access arrangements for tuna, which the Philippines is excluded."

He also blamed the government for not seeking the help of the Group.

"We consider that the EU should be the target of Philippine criticism on this issue, rather than the Cairns Group, which was not even asked for assistance by the Philippines," Valle said.

Valle insisted that the Cairns Group continues to be a strong and effective advocate for developing countries.

"The Philippines has made a consistent and constructive contribution to every Cairns Group negotiating proposal and has ensured that they meet Philippine interest," he said, adding that "Australia welcomes the perspective the Philippine brings as a country dedicated to securing better conditions for its farmers and primary producers."

He acknowledged that "every coalition, including the Cairns Group, has its internal differences."

Valle gave assurance that "the strength of the Cairns Group is that despite differences in backgrounds and sectoral interests, we are united in our goal of securing a better deal for our farmers."

"Australia, the Philippines and the rest of the Cairns Group have common interests in improving market access, and in removing the subsidies of rich, developed countries which distort markets," Valle explained.

ALL CAIRNS GROUP CAIRNS CAIRNS GROUP DOHA EUROPEAN UNION GROUP MINISTER OF TRADE MARK VALLE PHILIPPINES VALLE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
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