ARCHIVED - Canada calls for rules-based trade rooted in sound science - Successful international agriculture trade ministerial meeting concludes

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, September 9, 2011 - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today concluded the 36th Cairns Group (CG) Ministerial Meeting where members assessed the ongoing WTO Doha Round negotiations on agriculture and other issues that impact trade, with the objective of fostering a more open agricultural trading system. For the first time, CG members discussed how innovation and rules-based trade rooted in sound science can help open up markets and meet global food security objectives.

While remaining committed to the multilateral process of the WTO and seeking an ambitious and balanced outcome to the Doha Round, Canada, along with the CG, expressed deep concern about the current state of the WTO Doha negotiations and called for a realistic path forward on trade liberalisation and a more predictable trading system. The next WTO ministerial meeting planned for December will be an opportunity to assess the current situation and to develop a work plan in co-operation with other WTO members.

The CG also welcomed the Government of Canada's domestic decision to reform its single desk marketing system for trade in wheat, durum and barley. On the margins of the Cairns Group meetings, Minister Ritz also had the opportunity to speak with Australian Trade Minister Dr. Craig Emerson specifically about the growth potential and economic opportunities available to grain farmers when they have the right to choose how to market their grain.

Minister Ritz underlined the importance to adapt trade regulations to the growing, innovative agriculture sector. Canada strongly supports innovation in agriculture, which will help farmers continue to produce high quality and quantity of food stuffs and help achieve our global food security objectives. During the conference, Minister Ritz pledged to continue to lead discussions with the international community on the effective management of unintended low-level presence of genetically modified materials in agricultural imports.

Minister Ritz also met with his counterpart from Morocco, Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch, to discuss the benefits that a future Free Trade Agreement will bring to farmers from both countries. Ministers agreed that the first round of negotiations will take place the week of October 11 in Ottawa.

The Cairns Group is a coalition of 19 agricultural exporting countries with a commitment to strengthening agricultural trade. A number of other important trading countries also attended the ministerial conference co-chaired by Minister Ritz and Australian Minister for Trade Craig Emerson from September 7-9. In addition, farm leaders from the Cairns Group member countries gathered in Saskatoon at the invitation of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.

For information about the Cairns Group, please visit: www.cairnsgroup.org

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Director of Communications
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-773-1059

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