Calgary, AB - A package of new multilateral rules and trade liberalization has been agreed to for the first time since the Uruguay Round agreements were brought into force and the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created in 1995. This ‘Bali Package’ is so named because it was reached at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia. The agreement was reached early Saturday in Bali.
The package contains a number of new agreements, including one on trade facilitation, another on disciplines in the administration of tariff rate quotas and another on elimination of export subsidies in agriculture. Trade facilitation will place new disciplines on customs procedures that can often restrict the international movement of goods. The CCA welcomes this as often the beef trade can be impacted by duplication of import inspections, paperwork, and onerous service and user fees, among other issues that would be governed by this package. CCA is also aware of situations where administration of duty free quotas has become a barrier, so these are very positive developments.
The Bali Package gives a much needed boost to the WTO Doha Round of negotiations. Launched at the 4th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2001, the Doha Round has to date failed to produce any agreement at any of the Ministerial Conferences and in fact was declared deadlocked by Ministers in 2011.
With the Bali Package, the WTO Members have proved that they can overcome differences to produce a negotiated result. The CCA hopes the WTO can now move on to other important items that distort international agriculture production and trade such as market access and domestic support.
CCA’s Director of Government and International Relations, John Masswohl, attended the Bali WTO Ministerial Conference as well as the Cairns Group Farm Leaders’ meeting that preceded it. There, he was able to confer throughout the week with International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and express the CCA’s support for opening of international markets.
The CCA thanks Ministers Fast and Ritz for their strong representations at Bali on behalf of Canada’s beef producers and agriculture in general. The gathering of Ministers also provided the opportunity for a number of bilateral meetings. Of particular interest to the CCA was the bilateral meeting Ministers Fast and Ritz held with the Korean Minister of Trade. While a Canada-Korea free trade agreement was not reached at this meeting, we remain optimistic that such an agreement is within reach. In fact, Korea announced an agreement with Australia during the Bali Conference. The CCA urges the Government of Canada to quickly conclude an FTA with Korea so that Canadian beef can continue to compete in that market.
Furthermore, in a bilateral meeting with Mexico, it was re-affirmed that both countries will need to work together to end the United States’ discrimination against imported livestock caused by mandatory Country of Origin Labelling. Although it is hoped that the U.S. will resolve the issue in a new Farm Bill, Minister Ritz has repeatedly pledged to retaliate against U.S. products should the discrimination continue.