Oct 15, 1987


GENEVA OCTOBER 22 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke’s speech to the GATT Contracting Parties Thursday and the proposals for agricultural trade by the Cairnes Group disclosed by him, suggest that the group envisage the negotiations in this area to be wrapped up by end of next year.

The Uruguay Round of GATT MTNS in Goods, covering agricultural and other sectors, is a single undertaking, and is envisaged to be completed by 1990.

But the clear implication of the proposals read with Hawke’s speech appeared to be that the main principles of the agreement on agriculture, both the long-term and the ten-year phase-in, would be settled by end of next year, even if some details of the phase-in or reform programme would need to be worked out later, and the entire implementation spread over ten years.

The Cairnes Group proposals, and the Hawke’s speech, both underline the need for "early relief measures" in this sector.

In the formal proposals, the Cairnes Group has said that early relief measures would be implemented immediately there is provisional agreement on the long-term framework (of principles and rules in GATT to govern agricultural trade) or by end 1988 which ever is sooner.

Hawke’s speech said the Cairnes Group would be aiming to achieve agreement on parameters for the reform programme by end of next year, or sooner, if possible, so that early relief measures can be implemented immediately thereafter.

Hawke added that they would be aiming to agree on details of the reform program and implement them from end of 1990 at the latest, with a maximum phase-in period of ten years.

At his press conference, Hawke was asked whether this did not imply that the Cairnes Group wanted the parameters of the reform programme, and the provisional agreement on long-term framework, both to be achieve by end of next year, and thus in effect the agricultural negotiations to be wrapped up by then.

Hawke did not rebut this, but said that the proposals of the Cairnes Group envisaged the reform programme to be implemented in ten years.

The early relief measures would be in the nature of an early harvest, and was important not only for Australia but the third world counties who were suffering most in this sector, he added.

Representatives of the Cairnes Group, who sat behind Hawke at his press conference, later agreed that the proposals implied agreement by end of next year on the long-term framework, and the parameters of the reform programme, even if details of the latter might take a little more time to be settled and implementation of the reform programme itself would take ten years.

Hawke’s speech, in touching on services and the concessions that Australia would give in trade in manufactures, appeared to suggest a kind of package that could help accelerate the agricultural negotiations and bring about an early harvest by end of next year.

He however made clear that the views on services and manufactures trade were Australia’s and not that of the Cairnes Group.