July 18, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A Canadian delegation will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in World Trade Organization (WTO) discussions being held July 21-25.
Agriculture and Aquaculture Minister Ronald Ouellette will join delegation leaders federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz and federal Minister of International Trade Michael Fortier, as well as most of the other provincial agriculture ministers.
WTO negotiations on the two most critical agreements, agriculture and non-agriculture market access, have progressed to the point where there are only a few crucial points remaining to be agreed upon.
"This agreement could be a critical one, both for Canada's export interests and for the future of the supply management system for dairy, poultry and egg sectors," Ouellette said. "However, even if agreement is reached next week, there are still a number of steps in the ratification and implementation process where additional delays could occur."
Representatives from the about 40 main negotiating countries will try to reach agreement on these difficult issues next week. The full WTO membership of more than 150 countries could be asked to approve a negotiated text as early as the following week.
Ouellette and his provincial counterparts will attend daily briefings on the negotiations, and provide input to Canada's negotiators. The federal government will also schedule briefings with industry in Geneva, as well as teleconferences with stakeholders back in Canada.
Negotiations on what is known as the Doha round began at WTO discussions in Doha, Qatar in 2001. If agreement is not reached now, it is anticipated that any further negotiations would not proceed until well after the current United States election cycle is completed.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alain Bryar, communications, Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture, 506-444-4218.