Gimli – May 30, 2006 -- Western Premiers noted that a significant part of the economic difficulties faced by grain and oilseed producers stems from international trade-distorting practices and rules and that it is vital that the federal government advocate elimination of these practices and improved international trade rules.
Western Premiers agreed that a substantial and ambitious outcome in the WTO agriculture negotiations is critical to the long-term prosperity of Canadian agri-food producers. This requires substantial improvements in market access for all products, the elimination of all forms of export subsidies, and significant reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. Canada’s ability to influence the negotiations has been compromised by its inflexible approach on market access for some agricultural products. Western Premiers expressed their disappointment with Canada’s current approach. Western Premiers called on the federal government to immediately revitalize its negotiating strategy to achieve a WTO outcome that meets the needs of Canada’s export-oriented producers who account for 90% of all farmers and 80% of all farm receipts.
Premiers noted that their Agricultural ministers have recently written to the federal government outlining their concerns with the government of Canada’s position on the WTO negotiations. This correspondence noted “that Canada has recently taken an extreme, inflexible position on market access for sensitive products. As a result Canada is the only country at the negotiations refusing to consider cuts to over-quota tariffs. It is [their] understanding that because of Canada’s position a tentative agreement on treatment for sensitive products was scuttled. This means that Canada (the world’s third largest exporting country) is now advocating a more protectionist position than countries such as: Japan, Switzerland and Norway. In addition, it means that Canada’s intransigent stance may play a major role in the failure to reach an agreement by the end 2006.”
Western Premiers discussed the difficult income situation grain and oilseed producers are expected to face in 2006 and call on the federal government to move quickly to finalize and deliver the $1 billion in transition funding announced in the 2006 federal budget.
Western Premiers are committed to working with the federal government and the industry to explore options for addressing the short term challenges and developing innovative, long term strategies for the future prosperity of the agriculture and food industry. Premiers noted the need for agricultural income stabilization programs to be flexible to accommodate the emerging agriculture industry in the Territories.
Director of Cabinet Communications
Province of Manitoba